Flesh Eating Spiders and Necrotising Arachnidism

Do spiders, like sandflies cause flesh eating disease? Apparently, some of them do. From a report by Northern Advocate in New Zealand:

An increase in white-tailed spider bites has been reported by a Northland doctor. But the spider (pictured) may be earning an unfair reputation – getting the blame for the bites of other spiders, a bug expert believes.

Bugman Ruud Kleinpaste says white-tailed spiders are often accused of administering spider bites, despite never being caught in the act. The bites have the potential to develop a flesh-eating bacteria.

Whangarei GP Dr Vijay Harypursat said he had treated four people with suspected white-tailed spider bites since December 1 – an increase on previous years when one person at most might have been bitten.

His colleagues have also reported a spike, a trend Dr Harypursat puts down to the region’s warmer weather.

Dr Harypursat said most immune systems would get rid of any symptoms but some people developed a reaction. His advice for those bitten was to disinfect the injury with alcohol or vinegar.

“If the wound becomes red or inflamed and you get a fever after a couple of days, it could be something more sinister.”

In the worst-case scenario of “necrotising arachnidism” which affected a small minority of victims, a person might need to be given intravenous antibiotics and rotting tissue would have to be surgically removed.

flesh eating virus bacteria necrotising arachnidism spider

So what’s this necrotising arachnidism? Is it the same as the Necrotising Fasciitis which reportedly infected Michael Jackson?

Well, like the other “necrotising” thingies we’ve already blogged about earlier, necrotising arachnidism is a condition “of blistering, ulceration and destruction (necrosis) of the skin”. Unlike the other necrotising thingies however, this one is brought about by spider bites.

Should we avoid all spiders then? Well, maybe you should avoid the White Tail spider and the Wolf spider which are most often suspected as the main “bearers” of necrotising arachnidism. However, it is possible that other kinds of spiders can give you this necrotising arachnidism thingie.