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Black Widow Worries

Black Widow

Black widows are the ultimate scary spider, with their distinctive black bulbous body and red hour glass marking. They also do pose a threat, as their venom is highly toxic. But should you really be worried if you see them in your home, or if you believe you have been bitten by one? "While black widow spiders inject only a small amount of venom when they bite, the venom is potent and can cause a lot of pain and muscle cramps," says Barbara Crouch, PharmD, MSPH, Director of the Utah Poison Control Center.

If you are the victim of a black widow bite, the best thing to do is to call the Utah Poison Control Center. They can advise if it is safe to manage at home or if you need to make a trip to the emergency room. "Last year less than 50 percent of the 63 black widow bite calls to the Utah Poison Control Center were serious enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room and when an emergency room visit was necessary, 70 percent were treated as an outpatient," says Crouch.

Of course, the best way to deal with a black widow bite is to avoid being bitten in the first place. Install tight-fitting screens on doors and windows and seal building cracks where spiders enter the house. Vacuum thoroughly to remove spider webs. Eliminate potential hiding places such as undisturbed cluttered areas indoors and piles of lumber and rubble outdoors.

Black widows aren't the only spiders in Utah to worry about at this time of year either. A bite from a Hobo spider may cause local tissue injury, and handling a tarantula may result in skin irritation. With all spider injuries though, help is close at hand at the Utah Poison Control Center. "We have pharmacists and nurses trained in toxicology ready to answer your questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week," says Crouch, "Just call 800-222-1222."