Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Health authorities warn of violin spider

As if dengue and chikungunya-bearing mosquitoes were not quite enough, along comes the violin spider, so-called because of the violin-like markings it bears.

The federal Health Secretariat has issued a warning that the arachnid, also known as a brown recluse spider and part of the Loxosceles genus, has turned up in Mexico and cases of bites have been reported.

Normally found in the central and southern United States, the spider was first reported in this country three months ago.

The best way to identify the violin spider is look it in the eye, writes Jessie Szalay on Live Science.

Make that eyes: it has six instead of the eight that most spiders have, and they are arranged in three pairs in a semi-circle. It also has a uniformly colored abdomen covered in fine hairs which give it a velvety appearance. They are brown in color but the shade of brown can vary.

They measure about a centimeter long by half a centimeter in width.

Health authorities in Mexico say the spider’s poisonous bite has killed about 200,000 people around the world so far this year, although the Pest Management Program at the University of California Berkeley says 90% of bites heal without medical attention.

As with most spiders, the violin spider normally only bites when disturbed. It is usually found in dark and secluded places and is primarily nocturnal.

Symptoms can include itching, chills, fever, nausea, sweating and a general feeling of discomfort or sickness. There is no antidote for the poison.

Health officials say victims should apply ice to the bite and seek medical attention without delay. They warn against using one’s mouth to suck out the poison.

Source: SDP Noticias (sp), Live Science (en)

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