White-tail spider bite: a prospective study of 130 definite bites by Lampona species

Med J Aust. 2003 Aug 18;179(4):199-202.

Abstract

Objective: To investigate the circumstances and clinical effects of bites by white-tail spiders, including the two species Lampona cylindrata and L. murina commonly encountered by humans, and the incidence of necrotic lesions.

Design: Prospective cohort study of definite white-tail spider bites. Cases were only included if there was a clear history of bite, the spider was caught and was identified by an expert.

Setting: Calls to Australian poisons information centres and emergency departments.

Patients: 130 patients with a definite bite by a white-tail spider from February 1999 to April 2002.

Results: There were 79 bites by L. cylindrata and 51 by L. murina. Bites occurred in warmer months, 95% indoors and 75% between 16: 00 and 08: 00. The activity at the time of the bite was characteristic and the spider was encountered between bedclothes, towels or clothing. 25% of bites occurred on distal limbs. Pain/discomfort occurred in all cases, and was severe in 27%. Other effects included puncture marks (17%), redness/red mark (83%) and itchiness (44%). Systemic effects occurred in 9%. There were no cases of necrotic ulcers (97.5% CI, 0-2.8%) or confirmed infections. Median duration of effects was 24 hours (interquartile range, 1-168 hours). There were three distinct clinical patterns: pain only (21%), pain and red mark for < 24 hours (35%), and a persistent painful or irritating red lesion (44%).

Conclusions: Bites by Lampona spp. cause minor effects in most cases, or a persistent painful red lesion in almost half the cases. White-tail spider bites are very unlikely to cause necrotic ulcers, and other diagnoses must be sought.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Necrosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Seasons
  • Skin / pathology*
  • Spider Bites / diagnosis*
  • Spider Bites / epidemiology*
  • Spider Bites / etiology
  • Spider Bites / pathology
  • Spiders / classification*