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Black Widow Spider Bite (cont.)

Black Widow Spider Bite Symptoms

The black widow spider produces a protein venom that affects the victim's nervous system. This neurotoxic protein is one of the most potent venoms secreted by an animal. Some people are slightly affected by the venom, but others may have a severe response. The first symptom is acute pain at the site of the bite, although there may only be a minimal local reaction. Symptoms usually start within 20 minutes to one hour after the bite.

  • Local pain may be followed by localized or generalized severe muscle cramps,abdominal pain, weakness, and tremor. Large muscle groups (such as shoulder or back) are often affected, resulting in considerable pain. In severe cases, nausea, vomiting, fainting, dizziness, chest pain, and respiratory difficulties may follow.
  • The severity of the reaction depends on the age and physical condition of the person bitten. Children and the elderly are more seriously affected than young adults.
  • In some cases, abdominal pain may mimic such conditions as appendicitis or gallbladder problems. Chest pain may be mistaken for a heart attack.
  • Blood pressure and heart rate may be elevated. The elevation of blood pressure can lead to one of the most severe complications.
  • People rarely die from a black widow's bite. Life-threatening reactions are generally seen only in small children and the elderly.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/20/2014

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Spider Envenomation, Widow »

Widow spiders belong to the genus Latrodectus and include the black widow spider (Latrodectus mactans mactans) in the United States.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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