Verified bites by yellow sac spiders (genus Cheiracanthium) in the United States and Australia: where is the necrosis?

Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2006 Jun;74(6):1043-8.


Spiders of the genus Cheiracanthium are frequently reported in review articles and medical references to be a definitive cause of dermonecrosis or necrotic arachnidism in humans. We provide 20 cases of verified bites by Cheiracanthium spiders from the United States and Australia, none with necrosis. A review of the international literature on 39 verified Cheiracanthium bites found only one case of mild necrosis in the European species C. punctorium. The basis for the suggestion that this spider genus causes dermonecrosis seems to be mostly inference from venom experiments in rabbits and guinea pigs, circumstantial spider involvement in human skin lesions, and repetitive citation of non-definitive reports in the medical literature. We discuss factors that lead to the erroneous elevation of virtually innocuous spiders to that of significant medical concern, which is a recurring problem in the medical community.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Australia
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Necrosis
  • Skin / pathology*
  • Spider Bites / pathology*
  • Spiders / classification*
  • Spiders / pathogenicity
  • Time Factors
  • United States