Notes and Observations Regarding the Bite of Poecilotheria pederseni
By Ray Gabriel
Whilst feeding some spiders late at night I was accidentally bitten
by a sub-adult, female Poecilotheria
pederseni, which tried to escape from
her container. As I tried to
replace the lid I trapped my little finger in the jar where I can only
assume the specimen mistook my finger for a cricket.
am a 39 year old male of average build and reasonable health. I have no allergies, that I know
of, but have had an allergic reaction to a previous spider bite
(Steatoda grossa). I
had drunk around three pints of Guinness earlier that evening. I have been diagnosed as
Asthmatic, but have only ever had to use my inhaler 5-6 times in the 12+
years since my asthma was first diagnosed.
Tingling sensation in finger, feels hot (due to the squeezing?),
tip swollen, numb and with slight reddening, only a shade or two darker
than the finger next to it, not noticeably different. The spider was captured and
returned to her container and books containing information on spider bites
were gathered, (there would be a good chance I would have more information
than the people attending to me at the Hospital, as spider bites are a
rare occurrence). I then woke
Lesley up to tell her the good news.
set off to Hospital, just in case.
Slight pain in left elbow, finger almost stiff - feels as if I
have wrenched my finger back and has the same painful ‘pins and needles’
feeling one gets when the hands have been in the cold too long.
Arrive at hospital.
Slight pain under arm and triceps. Under Hospital recommendation I
take two aspirin, these were taken at 3:30am. While at
hospital the nurse and I looked in ‘Toxbase’ where no mention of any
spider bites was to be found.
We then rang Guy’s Hospital where another nurse found some
reference to spider bites, but not Poecilotheria. All
we had as a guide was the comments in Schultz & Schultz and Verdez,
where one person bitten by P. regalis had a sore finger and the other was in hospital
for five weeks - nothing really sound for the nursing staff to work
from. Since I had been bitten
almost two hours ago and was still standing, the nursing staff decided to
administer two aspirin to relieve the pain (uncomfortable, but not
Left hospital. At this
point in time there was no visible tracking from the bite; no sense of
euphoria, nausea; no hallucinations; no bowel movements and no sign of any
necropsy around the bite (I remained calm at all times). When I returned home I had a cup
of coffee. No dressing or
cream/ointment was ever put on the wound.
to bed. The sub-adult, female
pederseni was feeding and showed no
signs of stress.
Finger and knuckle was still stiff and had that wrenched, ‘pins and
needles’ feeling. I did some
gardening and found it painful to grip with my left hand, but this did not
prevent me using my hand.
had a warm bath and took my watch off (I always keep my watch on, except
for swimming and bathing. I
like to wear my watch tight on my wrist).
knuckle of my wedding finger was stiff (exercise from gardening or
venom?). I then went to bed.
8:30am. The finger was still stiff as I
set off to work.
‘flu like’. My breathing was
a bit heavy and my left armpit glands were swollen and painful.
Requested to be taken back to hospital as my breathing was now much
in hospital we tried to get in touch with Jean Lou Dorne at Southampton
University (the other people who I would have sought help from were in
4:30pm. Discovered Jean Lou was on holiday, the person I spoke to suggested I might be having an allergic reaction to the venom. I explained this to Andy, the nurse attending me, he agreed with this and prescribed Cetirizine (10mg
tablets), and Prednisolone (5mg tablets) – a steroid and an
I had to take 10mg of each tablet each day, for five days.
10:30am. Woke up to find that my finger was
still stiff. Most of the pain
had gone, but I felt very rough and still ‘flu like’. I walked up to the Post Office to
pick up a parcel (the walk was around 600m, but up-hill). When I got to the Post Office I
could only pick up one package and had to go home for proof of identity
for the other one. As I
returned to the Post Office I had a mild asthma attack and had to sit
down for 20 minutes, and use my inhaler, before I could pick up the
parcel. I was given a lift
home where, after a drink of water and my pills, I sat down and fell
up, still feeling pretty groggy.
the next day I refrained from any strenuous activity. I felt worn out and my stool was
of a softer consistency than normal.
This could have been due to the steroids and anti-histamines (there
was also no sign of blood or mucus). My urine was normal too - no
blood or marked discoloration.
My breathing was still noticeable, but not as heavy as
before. I did not feel like eating and ‘went off’ even mildly spicy
food. I regularly used my inhaler, both the blue and the brown
September. Woke up early with pain in my
lower sides - could be due either to a mixture of German beer and Tequila,
or more allergic reactions to the venom.
felt as if I had really bad heartburn. I then had a drink and took the
last of my pills.
little finger on my left hand was flicking under the wedding finger at the
knuckle. I found this
painful, but bearable and had to push the knuckle back out
again. In the following
minutes this happened three more times, only staying out in its normal
position on the third ‘push out’.
I then massaged my finger.
September 9:05am. Woke
up with severe cramp in my lower, left leg and to a lesser degree, in my
right foot behind the toes.
Attended a Doctor’s appointment. The cramp in my left leg was still
there. A urine sample was
also given. By now I was
starting to feel less ‘flu like’.
As I had no steroids or anti-histamine to take I asked the Doctor
for a re-prescription, which was declined. Every time I stretched or yawned,
I could feel some of my muscles tighten up almost cramp like.
September. Back to work. My finger was still a little stiff
and I felt better, but my leg muscles were still not fully relaxed causing
me to walk with a slight limp (right foot still hurt too).
~6:00pm. I managed to speak to Jean Lou,
who agreed that I had had an allergic reaction to the spider’s venom. It was suggested that I take
Ibuprofen, as an anti inflammatory.
He also informed me that the allergic reaction could last a couple
started taking the Ibuprofen that night and continued for the next couple
of days. By the evening of
the 21st I was no longer walking with a limp as my calf
muscle was now back to normal. Although I still had the pain in my right
foot, I could feel it was residing.
Very little is known about the effects of theraphosid venom, and
the Medical facilities have little or no knowledge on the subject. With this in mind I would request
that any useful information should be supplied to me, so that I can pass
it onto my local health authority who will ensure that the relevant
information is made available for future reference. I would also request that a copy
of this journal and any other BTS journals containing bite information be
sent to myself, so that I can also supply this information to my local
you do get bitten, stay calm, get someone to take you to hospital
immediately. If you use an
inhaler take it with you, bring some other information such as the books
referenced below, especially Verdez and Schultz. Make accurate notes, with times if
possible - you might be the first person to be bitten by that species, so
all the information you gather will be invaluable for medical knowledge,
and for treating the bite.
would like to thank the following people for their advice, interest, time
and concern: Jean Lou Dorne, Jan-Ove Rein, Søren Rafn, Henrik Wessel
Frank, Ray Hale, Steve Copley, the attendant Nursing Staff at Princess
Margaret’s Hospital Swindon, and last but not least Lesley for her taxi
driving, humour (at my expense) and all round care and concern.