A GP’s guide to invasive spider bites produced by venom scientists

False widow spider Steatoda nobilis

The False Widow spider is an invasive species which has arrived here from the UK over the past 20 years or so, with three bite cases reported in Ireland.

Dr Michel Dugon at NUI Galway led a team based at the Venom Systems and Proteomics Laboratory in developing the world’s first verified identification and symptoms checklist for GPs and the public on how to treat False Widow bites.

This spider’s bites are not fatal, but symptoms can include a large swelling within three minutes of being bitten followed by a dry, necrotic wound, and when the swelling subsidies, inflammation can follow for a few days afterwards.

The False Widow lives in urban settings close to buildings and houses inhabited by people, so the news scientists have developed a symptom checklist for GPs who may have to treat people bitten by this spider certainly come a relief.

Dr Dugon’s team developed the GP guide to identifying and treating people suffering from False Widow bites while examining five reported case of bites from this spider in Ireland and the UK. The findings were reported in Biology and Environment as well as Clinical Toxicology.

“Whilst it is extremely unlikely that a bit will ever be fatal, we do need to consider bites from False Widows as a potential health risk given the increase of this species not just in the UK and Ireland, but also mainland Europe and the US,” said Dr Dugon (pictured here below) 

Dr Michel Dugon

“We hope that our study will help to address some of the public’s concerns about these spiders and will provide healthcare professionals with the information required to accurately diagnose and report bites associated with the False Widow,” said Dr Dugon. 

To read the study in Biology and Environment, visit: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3318/bioe.2017.11

To read study in Clinical Toxicology, visit:

NUI Galway Provide First Definitive Identification Guide on False Widow Spider Bites, visit: https://youtu.be/3YEaGnl4Mlg