Can a Black Widow Kill You? 10/10/10
"A bite from a black widow seems like nothing more than a simple pin prick, relatively painless but as time goes on it will become much worse."
There are dozens of different species of arachnids, with that one of the easiest to identify would be the black widow. There are several defining characteristic that are associated to the black widow, the most common and easiest to recognize would be the black color with a red hourglass shaped on the abdomen. Male black widows are nothing to worry about, for they carry a much less potent poison, where as the adult females carry the most poison and are capable of delivering large doses. The black widow is most likely to be found in the Southwest regions of the U.S. and generally makes small dark places its home. It is important to be careful around wood piles, sheds, garages, old boxes, and basically any other location that might pose as a home or nesting ground because where there is one widow there is bound to be more. These spiders like almost any other species are not interested in just biting at random, in fact they only bite humans in defense, after all they can’t eat us so we are no good to them anyways. In this case it is best to just leave the spider alone if you can, don’t bother them and they won’t bite you.
A bite from a black widow seems like nothing more than a simple pin prick, relatively painless but as time goes on it will become much worse. Symptoms of a bite usually set in within an hour or so after the encounter, depending on age, sex, and physical health. Characteristics to look for if believed to have bitten would be two red spots that are surrounded by redness or a rash and swelling. Elderly people, young children, and individuals with high blood pressure are at the highest risk of death from a bite , due to health and chemical make-up of the immune system, though fatalities are uncommon it is possible for anyone to die. Since theses spiders release a neurotoxin into the blood stream it attacks nervous system and emits symptoms such as muscle and chest pain, as well as the possibility of causing the eyelids to swell up and become very irritable. People with weak immune systems or a low tolerance to the toxin may become very ill causing nausea, sweats, and tremors that can lead to labored breathing. Depending on the size and age of the black widow it can also cause an individual to lose consciousness, begin convulsing uncontrollably, and a serious drop in blood pressure. Though many of these symptoms are somewhat extreme any individual is potentially a victim to these possibilities so it is important to identify what bit you and where the bite came from so you can get proper medical attention.
Once bitten by a widow it is very important that you not panic, the last thing you want to do is raise your blood pressure and allow the toxin to speed through the nervous system. Stay calm and if possible keep the affected area at heart level, this allows the body to slow down the speed in which the toxin is coursing through your body. Several steps that should be taken after a bite and proper identification of what bite is from, start with washing the affected area with cool soapy water, then apply iodine or hydrogen peroxide to prevent any further infection. Once the area has been washed thoroughly it is suggested that you put an ice pack over the bite to reduce the swelling and slow down the affects of toxin. It is also important to keep the victim warm after a bite, this allows the body to use less energy keeping your body temperature up and more energy to fight off the toxin. Even after all that has been done it is recommended that you seek medical attention or at least call your local Poison Control Center for any additional tips on what to do next. If the bite becomes severe enough there is an injection that can be administered intravenously which contains calcium gluconate, which will counter act most of the effects of the toxin. There is also a black widow antiserum available, this is rarely used due to it has been known to cause many complications and has a chance of escalading the symptoms of the toxin which can increase the chance of death from a bite. Black widow bites can be fatal but the chance is very slim and with modern medicine advancing everyday it is becoming something that isn’t necessarily something to worry about. Like many species if you leave them alone, they will leave you alone.