Black Widow Spider Bite
A Black Widow is a shinny black spider with an hourglass shape on the abdomen.
Only the female Black Widow is dangerous to humans. It is called the Black Widow
because after mating, the female will frequently kill the male.
Although these spiders are not especially large, with a body about 0.5 inches
in length, their venom is extremely potent (it is also reported to be more
potent than the venom of cobras and coral snakes). A person may not feel the
initial bite, but redness and pain show up at the bite site within an hour.
The venom is a toxin that acts specifically on nerve cells. Severe pain and
cramping usually develop in the bitten arm, leg, abdomen, or back. The venom can
cause a swelling up to 15 cm. The pain may be severe and accompanied by fever,
chills, sweating and nausea.
Ice or cold packs can be applied to the bite area to reduce the pain and swelling.
Pain killers like Ibuprofen can be used to ease the pain. Although most adults
bitten by a Black Widow recover within 24 hours, it may be several days or
weeks before all the symptoms finally go away.
If the victim of a Black Widow bite is a child or elderly person, an immediate
trip to the hospital is recommended, where antivenin can be administered.