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Funnel-web spider bite

 

This article describes the effects of a bite from the funnel-web spider. Male funnel-web spiders are more poisonous than females.

This article is for information only. DO NOT use it to treat or manage a bite from this type of spider. If you or someone you are with has an exposure, call your local emergency number (such as 911), or your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.

Poisonous Ingredient

The venom in the funnel-web spider contains the poison.

Where Found

 

Funnel-web spiders are found in southeast Australia, around Sydney. They are not native to the United States, although some people may keep them as exotic pets.

 

Symptoms

 

Funnel-web spider bites are very painful and dangerous. They have been known to cause these symptoms in different parts of the body:

Eyes, ears, nose, and throat

  • Drooling
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Double vision
  • Swallowing difficulty
  • Tingling or numbness in the mouth or lips within 10 to 15 minutes

Heart and blood

  • Collapse
  • Rapid heart rate

Lungs

  • Difficulty breathing

Muscles and joints

  • Joint pain
  • Severe muscle spasms, usually in the legs and belly area

Nervous system

  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Coma
  • Headache
  • Numbness of mouth and lips
  • Tremors
  • Shivering (chills)

Skin

  • Heavy sweating
  • Redness around the site of the bite

Stomach and intestines

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting

 

Home Care

 

Funnel-web spider bites are very poisonous. Seek medical help right away. Call the Poison Control Center for guidance.

Follow these steps until medical help is given:

  • Apply a bandage and put firm pressure over the bite.
  • Keep the affected area still, if possible, to prevent the venom from spreading. A homemade splint may be helpful if the bite was on the arms, legs, hands, or feet.
  • Loosen clothing and remove rings and other tight jewelry.

 

Before Calling Emergency

 

Have this information ready:

  • Person's age, weight, and condition
  • Time the bite occurred
  • Type of spider, if possible

 

Poison Control

 

Your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. They will give you further instructions.

This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

 

What to Expect at the Emergency Room

 

The health care provider will measure and monitor the person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. The wound will be treated as appropriate.

The person may receive:

  • Antivenin, a medicine to reverse the effects of the venom, if available
  • Breathing support, including oxygen, tube through the mouth into the throat, and breathing machine
  • Blood and urine tests
  • Chest x-ray
  • EKG (electrocardiogram, or heart tracing)
  • Intravenous fluids (through a vein)
  • Medicines to treat symptoms

 

Outlook (Prognosis)

 

Funnel-web spider bites can be life threatening, especially in children. They must be treated quickly with antivenin by an experienced provider. Even with appropriate and quick treatment, symptoms may last for several days to weeks.

 

 

References

Boyer LV, Greta J. Binford GJ, Degan JA. Spider bites. In: Auerbach PS, ed. Wilderness Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2011:chap 52.

Nogar JN, Clark RF. Arthropod bites and stings. In: Adams JG, ed. Emergency Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 140.

Otten EJ. Venomous animal bites. In: Marx JA, ed. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 62.

 
  • Arthropods, basic features

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    Arthropods, basic features

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  • Arachnids, basic features

    Arachnids, basic features - illustration

    This picture shows the basic features of spiders (arachnids).

    Arachnids, basic features

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    • Arthropods, basic features

      Arthropods, basic features - illustration

      Many arthropods are capable of carrying disease. This illustration shows some of the general characteristics of arthropods.

      Arthropods, basic features

      illustration

    • Arachnids, basic features

      Arachnids, basic features - illustration

      This picture shows the basic features of spiders (arachnids).

      Arachnids, basic features

      illustration

    A Closer Look

     

      Talking to your MD

       

        Self Care

         

           

          Review Date: 7/13/2015

          Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

          The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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