Many experts have argued over the fact that a small species of brown invasive spider crawling across the UK has a serious reputation for flesh-molting.
And now, overwhelming evidence suggests that stories of the false widow spider (Steatoda nobilis), which cause horrific skin infections, have a basis in reality.
The home of the “false widow” have been in the United Kingdom, since it was spotted on its shores in the 1870s, and most likely made a voyage from Madeira and the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa.
In recent decades, it has expanded to Ireland. And since this spiders prefer the warm home as much as we like, encounters with eight-legged spiders have only increased, as more people are forced to stay home in 2020.
“About 10 species of spiders common in northwestern Europe have fangs strong enough to penetrate human skin and deliver venom, but only one of them, the invasive false widow spider have Medical importance.” says John Dunbar, a zoologist at the National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway.
In most cases, the worst thing you can expect from a false widow spider bite is a few hours of pain around the injection site, and possibly a day or two of joint stiffness. we don’t need to be concerned about the poison itself, as the danger lies in the bacteria on the canines.
Dunbar’s team collected samples of false widow spiders, along with some giant house spiders (Amaurobius similis) and Eratigena atrica spiders from gardens and walkways.
Spiders’ bodies were scanned for bacteria, and venom collected from false widows:
The poison was used to test suggestions that it might help keep their tusks sterile enough to prevent them from impregnating victims with a dose of the germs during their bite. And it turns out it’s not doing that.
The RNA analysis revealed a rich array of microbes on the spiders. Approximately twelve genera were identified in total; Of the 22 bacterial species found on false widows, 12 were human pathogens.
“Our study demonstrates that spiders are not only poisonous, but they are also carriers of dangerous bacteria capable of causing severe infection,” says microbiologist NUI Galway, Niaz Khan.
“The biggest threat is that some of these bacteria are resistant to multiple drugs, which makes them difficult to treat with regular drugs,” Khan says.
Thanks in part to our over-reliance on antibiotics for both medicine and keeping livestock healthy.
And knowing that a spider bite can transmit superbugs shouldn’t make us fear spiders – it’s a danger we increasingly face from many aspects of life, after all. Besides, the chances of getting bitten by the vast majority of people are slim, not to mention contracting a fatal infection.
But understanding the potential for a drug-resistant infection to develop through a few small holes can help save lives.
Source: This research has been published in Scientific Reports.