How to treat a redback spider bite?
Found extensively in Australia, the redback spider is claimed to be related to the black widow which is found in North America.
What Do Redback Spiders Look Like?
This particular type of spider is very venomous and is also a permanent member of the genus Latrodectus, the widow spiders. The female of the clan is easily recognisable because of her spherical black (might be brownish) body which has a prominent red stripe etched on the upper side of her abdomen.
The female also has an hourglass shaped reddish-orange streak on the inner side of her body. They are about 0.5 inches long and the males of the clan are even tinier. Their length is about 3-4mm and their bodies are light brown in colour with white markings on the upperside of the body. The spiders have tender legs. The young ones of the family can be identified by the additional white markings on the abdomen.
Where Do They Hide Out?
They can be found all over Australia in large numbers and in almost all parts of the world in much smaller numbers. The spiders prefer dry habitats which is why they are mostly found in out-houses, children’s toys, underside of toilet seats, letter boxes, empty garbage cans and other dark, dry areas. They might also wait in corners near the light as they find their prey such as moths, flies etc. near the light. Using pesticide in out-houses regularly and controlling population of spiders by monitoring these areas can curb their growth.
Since their bites are venomous, a large quantity of anti-venom is required to neutralise it. The bites from the female spiders and juveniles have more impact whereas the male bites are short-lived and hardly venomous.
Envenomation causes by a red spider’s bite is known as latrodectism and most people experience pain or systematic symptoms. The victim is usually aware of the bite as s/he experiences excruciating pain. The swelling caused due to the bite is visible. The victim may also experience heavy sweating and goosebumps after sometime. Some people also experience nausea followed by severe abdominal pain. Difficulty in breathing, numbing of some areas of the body, heavy coughing are also common symptoms that the victim might suffer from.
What To Do If You Get Bitten
One must follow certain medical protocol while dealing with a red back spider bite.
- The affected area should not be bandaged. The venom spread very slowly and gives the helper enough time to get the victim to a hospital. Tying or bandaging increases pain levels.
- As a form of immediate first-aid, an ice-pack should be applied to the wound to relieve the pain and swelling. The victim should be given pain relief and taken to a nearby hospital.
- In a hospital, opioid analgesics might be required to get rid of the pain. Almost all hospitals have anti venom which can be provided to the patient to relieve the swelling, chest pain, abdominal pain etc. Anti-venoms usually don’t cause any reactions in the body yet a handy injection of adrenaline must be kept ready in case it is required to cure a case of anaphylactic reaction.
The symptoms are usually cured within a week and there have been no fatalities since the anti-venom was developed in 1956.