Small spider causes big ouch!

Spiders. For many this is the stuff nightmares are made of – and sometimes for a good reason. Uis resident Piet van Rooyen was recently bitten by what is suspected to have been a Violin Spider. The spider got its name from the distinct pattern on the front end of its body that resembles a violin.
Along with the sack spider, these two spiders account for the most spider bites in Namibia. Although not deadly, the effects of these spider bites can result in death if neglected. Spider bite victims endure considerable pain and often prolonged treatment is needed.
“I am more scared of being bitten by a spider than by a snake. The effect of a snakebite is immediate and often you can also identify what type of snake bit you. With a spider bite the effects only start to show after a day.
In almost no instances would you know for sure when the spider bit you and worse – what type of spider venom are you dealing with”, explained van Rooyen. Adding he can only guess the spider bit him on 26 August this year when he handled wood for a family braai.
The bite itself was barely noticeable. It was only the next day when his hand started to swell severely and he felt immense pain.
It was then that the bitemark started to become visible. Since,van Rooyen had to pay his doctor two visits.
There is no anti-venom for spider bites like in the case of snakebites. The treatment usually involves a strong dose of antibiotics and in other cases the doctor needs to cut the bite wound open to drain puss.
Of all spiders we have in Namibia, violin spider bites are the most common, explains Stuart Hebbard of the Swakopmund Snake Park. Compared to other venomous spiders like the button spider (of which the black widow is the most dangerous) or the sack spider, the violin spider bite is by majority more common. The violin spider almost resembles a daddy long leg, he said.
Violin spiders are commonly found in most parts of Southern Africa.
They are quite small, are brownish with dark markings and have a violin-shape mark on the front end of the body. The venom is cytotoxic. “It is quite common for people to not even notice being bitten and only do so hours later,” Hebbard continued.
The doctor informed van Rooyen it can take up to six weeks for the wound to heal. Van Rooyen says the pain has reduced, but he takes good care of the wound to keep up the pace towards healing.

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