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In Brief

First-Person: Black Widow Bite Sends Man to Hospital

A western black widow, <em>Latrodectus Hesperus</em>. One of the few species harmful to people in North America, a black widow often features a red hourglass shape on its underside.
A western black widow, <em>Latrodectus Hesperus</em>. One of the few species harmful to people in North America, a black widow often features a red hourglass shape on its underside. (Image credit: © AMNH\R. Mickens)

Black widow spiders are widespread and relatively common from Florida to New York, and west to Texas. Like many spiders they seldom bite people, and when they do, their bites are rarely fatal.  

Occasionally, though, their bites are life threatening — and such was the case for Jackson Landers, a nature writer who was recently bitten by a black widow after putting his foot into a shoe where a black widow had taken up residence. Although he tried to tough it out, Landers eventually had to head to the emergency room, he wrote in the New York Times.

While he was there, a large group of doctors and residents gathered to observe, due to the rarity of serious bites. After his condition worsened, he received an experimental anti-venom, consisting of antibodies purified from sheep blood. The treatment did the trick, and he returned home several hours later.

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Douglas Main
Douglas Main loves the weird and wonderful world of science, digging into amazing Planet Earth discoveries and wacky animal findings (from marsupials mating themselves to death to zombie worms to tear-drinking butterflies) for Live Science. Follow Doug on Google+.