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Tarantula spider bite

Definition

This article describes the effects of a tarantula spider bite.

This article is for information only. DO NOT use it to treat or manage a tarantula spider bite. If you or someone you are with is bitten, call your local emergency number (such as 911), or your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.

Poisonous Ingredient

The venom of tarantulas found in the United States is not considered dangerous, but it may cause allergic reactions.

Where Found

Tarantulas are found across the southern and southwestern regions of the United States. Some people keep them as pets.

Symptoms

If a tarantula bites you, you may have pain at the site of the bite similar to a bee sting. The area of the bite may become warm and red.

If you are allergic to tarantula venom, these symptoms may occur:

  • Breathing difficulty
  • Loss of blood flow to major organs (an extreme reaction)
  • Eyelid puffiness
  • Itchiness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Skin rash
  • Swelling at the site of the bite
  • Swelling of the lips and throat

Home Care

Seek medical help right away.

Wash the area with soap and water. Place ice (wrapped in a clean cloth or other covering) on the site of the sting for 10 minutes and then off for 10 minutes. Repeat this process. If the person has blood flow problems, reduce the time the ice is used to prevent possible skin damage.

Before Calling Emergency

Have this information ready:

  • Person's age, weight, and condition
  • Type of spider, if possible
  • Time of the bite
  • Area of the body that was bitten

Poison Control

Your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. They will give you further instructions.

This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

They will tell you if you should take the person to the hospital.

If possible, bring the spider to the emergency room for identification.

What to Expect at the Emergency Room

The health care provider will measure and monitor the person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. The wound and symptoms will be treated.

The person may receive:

  • Blood and urine tests
  • Breathing support, including oxygen
  • Chest x-ray
  • EKG (electrocardiogram, or heart tracing)
  • Intravenous fluids (through a vein)
  • Medicines to treat symptoms

Outlook (Prognosis)

Recovery usually takes about a week. Death from a tarantula spider bite in a healthy person is rare.

References

Boyer LV, Greta J, Binford GJ, et al. Spider bites. In: Auerbach PS, ed. Wilderness Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2011:chap 52.

Otten EJ. Venomous animal injuries. In: Marx JA, ed. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 62.

Review Date:7/14/2015
Reviewed By:Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997-A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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Outcome Data

No data available for this condition/procedure.

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