A school in England has been shut down due to an infestation of "false widow" spiders, the most poisonous British arachnid.
The spiders, which are equipped with venom that can cause swelling and fever, had been spotted around the campus of Dean Academy, prompting the school to close its doors on Wednesday. Experts were brought in to eradicate the spiders.
English false widows, of the genus Steatoda, are far less harmful to humans than the famous black widow of the Americas. Some members of the false widow genus can inflict bites which are medically significant in humans, though they generally don't have any long-lasting effects. The symptoms associated with the bite of several Steatoda species are known in medicine as steatodism; and have been described as a less-severe form of latrodectism (the symptoms associated with a widow spider bite).
Latrodectism, on the other hand, can be a problem. Due to the presence of latrotoxin in their venom, black widow bites can cause severe muscle pain, abdominal cramps, hyperhidrosis, tachycardia and muscle spasms. Symptoms usually last for 3–7 days, but may persist for several weeks.
Codeine or tramadol are prescribed, depending on pain scores, along with an anti-inflammatory agent like naproxen and cortisone, and an antispasmodic like diazepam.
False widows have been present in parts of southern England for almost a century, and are thought to have been spreading for the last 25 years. The spider has been in the news a bit in England lately, and on Twitter:
The False Widow spider doesn't really deserve the reputation it's getting. http://t.co/y1pqiVoc8S
— IBTimes (@IBTimes) October 13, 2013
Considering the recent news about these False Widow sightings, I'm not taking any chances! pic.twitter.com/xHsX4gECBG
— michaelmures (@muresy) October 22, 2013
In related news, it's been reported that spiders were the cause of some of the problem, as Toyota recalled 803,000 vehicles. Spiders are making their way into the drainage tube that leads from the air conditioning condenser. The blockage from the spiders allows water to leak onto the airbag, which results in a malfunctioning.
Image via Wikimedia Commons.