Yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia)
Bites by spiders of the genus Argiope are not common. Some sources even report that they will not bite humans (which is not true). Others claim they are not venomous (also not true). The truth is they are venomous, and records of humans being bitten by these spiders do exist.
Although these spiders are not aggressive, they will bite if handled, especially when treated roughly. Persons who have been bitten report an immediate sharp pain that is felt at the site of the bite, but because the venom is rather weak it typically fails to produce serious corollary swelling or irritation. Minor itching and/or swelling at the bite itself has been observed. Common over-the-counter antihistamines are said, by some, sufficient to relieve the pain. As time passes, and no additional discomfort develops, the anxiety associated with the bite subsides as well.
Secondary infections have been reported that apparently have nothing to do with the spider's natural venom. If a sore or an ulcer develops as a result of being bitten by this or any spider, you should seek medical assistance, as the infection may involve a pathogen acquired by the spider from the organisms it preys upon.
We are investigating the risk of secondary infections that may occur as a result of bites from this and other, otherwise harmless spiders whose venom is known to pose little or no danger to humans. In the process, we are collecting information on experiences persons have had with such spider bites.
Please contact us about your personal experiences, if you have been bitten by this or any other spider, including jumping spiders and wolf spiders (the bites of which typically produce a transitory inflammation, but resolve within a few days without medical attention), whether recently or in the past thirty years, anywhere in the world. For example, the bite of a species of garden spider, the golden orb spider of Australia [Nephila edulis] typically is unremarkable, but on occasion produces medically significant secondary infections; the frequency and nature of bites experienced from that species of spider is also a part of this study.
The object of this study is to collect data that might relate to a mysterious series of spider-related infections, involving a special pathogen, that took place in the United States and in Australia between 1977 and 2006. Although only fifteen such infections were reported to medical establishments, seven appear to be associated with spider bites. Some authorities suggest that the number of actual infections of this type that occurred in the U.S. and Australia during the past thirty years is much larger, but that they have been underreported.
Underreporting of specific kinds of infections can occur, either because the persons infected chose not to seek medical assistance, or the medical establishments misdiagnosed the infections as being caused by other infectious agents.
We are seeking to establish an estimate of the number of human spider bites that occur each year by these and similar spiders, whether the bite resulted in injury to the human or not. Next, we hope to establish the number of instances where the bite (1) became inflamed and/or infected, then resolved without medical intervention, or (2) infected, ulcerated, or led to a generalized sickness, and required medical intervention.
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