Of Spiders and Men
In Stan Lee’s iconic comic book series, The Amazing Spider-man, high school milquetoast Peter Parker is bitten by a radioactive spider, transforming the teen-ager into a super hero with “the agility and proportionate strength of an arachnid.”
Could a spider bite imbue the victim with the ability to climb walls, cling to ceilings and swing from silken threads? According to Richard Clark, MD, director in the Division of Medical Toxicology for UC San Diego Health System and medical director for the Poison Control Center, San Diego Division, no.
All spiders have venom, but only a few have fangs that can pierce human skin. And the ones that do aren’t radioactive.
In San Diego, home to Comic-Con and aspiring super heroes from all corners of the world, the only spider that poses a potential threat is the black widow spider, or Latrodectus mactans. “The bite of a black widow spider, which can also be brown or red, can lead to severe pain, neurological symptoms, nausea and vomiting but generally does not cause much skin damage,” said Clark.
Nausea and vomiting, possible; “catching thieves just like flies?” Not likely.
If you are bitten by a spider, instead of waiting to see if you “can spin a web, any size” Clark recommends good wound care. “Good wound care is the most important treatment for most spider bites. Some can lead to infections that may need antibiotics or a tetanus booster. Severe black widow bites may require pain medication and sometimes an antidote for the venom called anti-venom that needs to be given in an emergency department.”
Now, gamma rays: that might be the ticket …