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18606 Views 13 Replies Last post: Feb 17, 2015 4:11 PM by Florin - Museum ID team RSS
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Sep 25, 2013 6:41 PM

What could have caused this bite reaction??

Hi, I was bitten on sat night whilst in bed. I was visiting relatives in Romford and when I woke on Sun onrning I noticed I had a very sore ankle with a small bite mark. This gradually has gotten bigger and bigger, resulting in a very swollen and red ankle with a large (size of half a golf ball) blister on Mon night/Tues morning. I went to the Dr on Tuesday who gave me antibiotics and have been back again today as the blister was still growing. They punctured the blister but it is refilling :/ I was wondering if any one on here has had a similar reaction and could help me to identify what could have caused this. It is still very painful

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    Sep 25, 2013 11:13 PM (in response to RachTwinley)
    Re: What could have caused this bite reaction??

    I had one too-  in fact posted tonight as i think it is ann agressive spider. Although from my reserach so far the nasty ones seem to live out side.

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      Sep 26, 2013 9:57 AM (in response to bitten)
      Re: What could have caused this bite reaction??

      I know you said you felt a bite in bed, but is there any chance you've been walking around outside in vegetation? It reminds me of the sap burns I got last year from walking through some wild parsnip (you can get a similar effect from giant hogweed and a few other species). The sap causes the skin to become incredibly sensitive to the sun and you get these ridiculously large blisters.

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      Sep 26, 2013 12:03 PM (in response to RachTwinley)
      Re: What could have caused this bite reaction??

      From what I have read, significant hobo spider bites are only recorded in the USA, they don't appear to be a problem in Europe.


      The reality is, it is going to be virtually impossible to identify the culprit...even if your hosts discover & identify 'a spider', it may not be the actual species responsible.


      Sorry, that's not much help, or consolation, I know.


      Regards, Mark.

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    Sep 26, 2013 5:56 PM (in response to RachTwinley)
    Re: What could have caused this bite reaction??

    Dear Rach,


    I think you should look at false widow spider. I am still in a very bad way. There is an excellnt page on this site. Check and match your symptoms. For me the ineteresting one is that I did not feel the bite.  The big blister thing, swelling of whole limb, feeling generally unwell and very sleepy and lethargic, then this time ( but not the first bite- which swelled enormously and turned into cellulitis and I had antibiotics)  shotting pains, like being stabbed in the arm. Tingling in my hand. Random VERY acute pains all up arm and hand, mainly in  muscles.


    The doctors gave fluxocilliin-  or somthing like it last time! and within two days it was improving significcantly. Try to catch the ba--ard if it is in your house.

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      Sep 26, 2013 6:23 PM (in response to bitten)
      Re: What could have caused this bite reaction??

      Hi Bitten,


      I am very sorry that you have been bitten. But how do you know, for sure, that it was a false widow that bit you?


      I am very sympathetic to your situation, but there are about a dozen spiders capable of delivering an unpleasant bite to a human in the UK. I know this because I have all but 3 of them living in a 2 bedroom flat with me. I have only received 1 bite in the last 3 years, it wasn't from a false widow.


      They do bite, I appreciate it is not pleasant (bites, as a rule aren't) but unless you saw the culprit & identified it, you can only make assumptions as to what/who bit you.


      I can wholly understand your irritation and how frustrating it must be to be sidelined & unwell due to this incident. But let's not turn this into a "shark hunt"? There is already too much misinformation and scaremongering going on in the press as it is.


      Wishing you a speedy recovery, Mark.

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        Sep 27, 2013 8:43 AM (in response to MWJB)
        Re: What could have caused this bite reaction??

        Thank you for your response. I really do not feel sidelined, irritated or frustrated. I think you misunderstand my post, and my motivatations. I am well aware that if I contacted the press they would be very interested.That is the last thing I would want. I was not even aware of anything going on about spiders in the press until after this happened the second time.  I have made the reasoned decision not to go public as a  "shark hunt" is the last thing I would want. However, alerting the medical profession/ biological community ( real sign of the hot summer!)  that there have been dangerous spiders in the Derby area ( even if it is not false widow) is important.


        I want somewhere, where specialists monitor and record incidents. This bite is serious. The previous one I left three days before seeking medical help as i was not aware of any spiders in UK that could cause this, and attributed it to the fact I must have a sensitivity. I had cellulitis by the time I went to the doctor and a massive arm. It took 2 weeks to get well.


        I am a M.Sc qualified biologist and particularly welcome the balance of nature in my garden and house- with spiders doing a great job. I can just imagine the panic that another bite story would create. I am pleased you have not been bitten seriously, but for what ever reason this one is agressive.


        I cannot be positive that it was a false widow as I have not caught or seen the spider. However, there is one very distinctive feature of the bite that makes me pretty sure. I did not feel either bites at the time. I have also read the reports of the symptoms and only the false widow matches the symptoms. Looking at the photos from confirmed cases my bite look identical.


        The doctor almost laughed when I asked her if it could be a staph or step infection by mistake. I know the informed spider community are fed up of false reports- other things being blamed on spider bites etc. I saw the clear two tiny broken skin puncture marks. It was also easier to see them as the bite swelled up. I was in the exact habitat where one might live.


        If you wish to help please read symptoms below and suggest which other spider it could be.

        First bite

        Working on clearing a fence with large shrubs, working both clearing the ground and at and above eye level.

        When taking a break noticed blood on my arm. Two small bleeding areas- just a few drops.  Thought I had been scratched by a thorn, but noticed that each one had two small puncture marks, not like a scratch at all. Not in a place where sctaches normally occur from my gardening escapades. One in the fold of my arm, another on the side. Washed with soapy water - forgot about them. About 4 hours later they were itchy and swelling- used an antihistamine cream on them. IN the night woke with severe irritation and shooting pain. Took Piraton. In the morning ecepitionally drowsy, feeling ill- put down to Piraton. Arm was starting to swell. About 5 cms raised lump, a very large blister about the size of a marble on each one, filled with fluid. Looked carefully now and in the centre of each blister were clearly two puncture marks- it crosssed my mind that they were spider bites. All day in bed ill. Next night pain severe, felling like a zombie. Arm continuesd to swell now all hand and upper arm affected. Got emergency medical appointment. Doctor said it was "very nasty" I was chilled about it, After three days on antibiotics- started to clear up. Bites finanlly cleared up after two weeks. There is a big scar there still though.  I asusumed from my research that I had been "sensitised" to spider bites after being badly bitten in Saudi Arabia- resulting in hospital admission, antibiotic drip etc. Leg twice its normal size - so that I need three seats on BA to get home!


        Dismissed the whole thing as a freak incident, and my bodies overreaction.


        THe second time

        Working at about 2m- 2,5 metres in the same area cutting back plant from fence.

        Did not feel bite, did not notice blood. In afternoon felt itching again, looked saw the blister forming and immedaitely look the antihistamines the doctor had given me for the last one. Slight swelling. Cramp like pains in the night, pins and needles in fingers. Feeling really really ill, non functional and drwosy. Slept most of the day. Third day thought was on the mend. Severe pain in the musicles of the arm, shooting pains, aches, cramps, from top of arm to fingers. the pain was really bad so I got  emergency doctors appointment.I also looked on web for first time to see what could have caused it- and found various sites including this one- where symptoms are described. Doctor confirmed it was a bite, confirmed deficnatley not infection. Noticed whole arm and hand swollen ( I had not). Suggested spider bite, she thought it serious enough to ring poisongs place to see what treatment- no anti venom available. As no infection, strong painkillers. To be check again today.


        The key features for me are

        1. the fact you do not feel the bite.

        2. The severerity of the reaction- lethagy, pain, swelling etc.

        3. That the bite and arm look identical to confirmed cases ( not striong evidence or which species I agree)


        Hope you can suggest which spider. Bit more importantly- where do i report it to.

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          Sep 27, 2013 7:45 PM (in response to RachTwinley)
          Re: What could have caused this bite reaction??

          I was interested to see the answer to this because many years ago I developed a few blisters like this on my legs (all below the knee) and I never knew the cause. The best theory I could come up with was sitting too close to my fan heater. But it had never happened previously and hasn't happened since so that explanation seems unlikely. Maybe insect bites or sap burns were more likely but I don't know if that ever occurred to me.

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            Feb 17, 2015 4:11 PM (in response to jaguarondi)
            Re: What could have caused this bite reaction??

            Thanks both to RachTwinley and 'bitten' for the detailed account of their troubles.

            These are definitely NOT the symptoms of spider bites. They do not cause such blisters. For Steatoda (False widow) bites, the pain is the main symptom and it occurs usually in the first half hour.

            The bite marks should be twin, not one on one side of the arm and one on the other.

            As in all these situations I deal with, there is no evidence a spider bite happened, but all conjecture.

            You need to be careful in such situations: persistance in believing you have been bitten by a spider may delay proper treatment for the real, different cause (allergic reaction, infection, etc.)


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