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Dyskenetic Syndrome - A Complete Record of an Outbreak

Discussion in 'Tarantula Questions & Discussions' started by 6StringSamurai, Jul 2, 2008.

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    My tarantula collection is being devastated by what seems to be an outbreak of "dyskenetic syndrome." It's unbelievable, animals that I have raised from tiny slings to near adulthood are dying right in front of me and nothing I do seems to help.

    In the hope that something might be learned about this bizarre condition, I'm going to post an ongoing record of this outbreak as it occurs. I'll include photos and videos of the animals involved and any other information that I can think to include.

    I'm happy to answer any questions and I'm willing to consider all advice.

    Ruling out other causes

    I have seen theories that this problem is caused by pesticide exposure and/or infected feeder insects. Given the circumstances here I do not think that is the case with my animals. I have a roach colony that feeds all ~20 of my tarantulas and all ~10 of my crested geckos. The roaches eat left over baby food and dog food and never fresh produce that may have trace pesticides on them. This set up has been problem free for me for almost three years.

    Also, in addition to the specimens described below there is a second shelf on the other side of the room with more tarantulas. They feed from the same roach colony and so far they are completely healthy. If that changes I will update this thread.

    I consider myself a relatively experienced and capable spider keeper. I've raised many slings to sexual maturity and I've only lost two up until today. One was a bad molt and the other died very young from unknown causes. I am confident in my methods and abilities. I mention this to rule out other causes like dehydration or use of ant spray in the animal room or anything like that.

    The Area of Infection

    This is a chart showing the placement of all the enclosures on the shelf that has been affected by this outbreak.

    Here's What Happened

    On June 15th I purchased a poecilotheria regalis from a reptile show. At the time it seemed like a healthy and well tended animal. I kept it apart from the rest of my collection for about a week. It seemed ok, so I placed it as indicated in the chart above.

    This morning I noticed that the spider was acting very unusual. It was twitching rapidly and could not keep a grip on the climbing branch in it's enclosure. When I picked up the cage it fell on it's back and could not right itself. Aware of the dangers I separated it from the other animals and placed it in a fresh clean enclosure with a damp paper towel.

    I do have video of this, but it's on my phone and for some reason I have not been able to get it off. When I get it I'll post it here


    I checked on the other tarantulas and they all seemed normal, although a few of them were hiding. That was the last thing I did before I left the house at 6:45.

    When I got home at 4:30 the first thing I did was check on the tarantulas. Several tarantulas that had seemed perfectly healthy that morning were exhibiting the same symptoms as the poecilotheria regalis.

    Both Psalmopoeus cambridgei were exhibiting symptoms:


    The Hetrascodra maculata was in a death curl but responded slightly when prodded.


    The avicularia versicolor was dead.

    I moved each of these "infected" spiders to clean cages with damp paper towels as substrate and moved them to another room. So far, nothing has changed. I've thrown out their old cages, should any of them recover they will get new enclosures.

    So far, that's everything. Here's an updated chart showing the progress of the disease.

    I'm willing to consider alternate explanations, but all the evidence seems to suggest that the poecilotheria regalis brought something into the equation that spread quickly to most of the other spiders around it.

    I emailed and tried to call the breeder who sold this spider to me and he is not responding. Should I post a warning in the offline seller thread? I would not want this to happen to someone else.

    From now on, I will isolate new tarantulas for at least a month.

    I will post all new developments here.

    Thanks for reading


    WARPIG Arachnoangel

    WOW!!! I am sorry for your loss and huge problem. But when you named the P regalis Thyphoid Mary perhaps you hit the nail on the head.
    I can't offer and incites, but there must be more than coincidence between Mary and your losses and trouble!!!:( :?

  3. Fingolfin

    Fingolfin Arachnoangel

    Are there any heating vents in the ceiling?
  4. Shogun

    Shogun Arachnosquire

    Wow, frightening. I hope some useful information can come of this at least.
  5. There is one vent in the center of the room, the shelves are pushed up against the walls and as such are as far from the vent as it's possible to get in the house, though I wasn't thinking about that at the time.

    Have you had problems with this?
  6. Fingolfin

    Fingolfin Arachnoangel

    No, I haven't, but when you showed the diagram the first thing I thought of was something coming down from the ceiling = heating vents.... and you do have one. Are you in an apartment?
  7. hardlucktattoo

    hardlucktattoo Arachnobaron

    I believe the concern with the apartment is that some else may have sprayed pesticide and it is coming through your air vent. Please dismiss if you have your own home. Do you have any dogs or cats that may have an anti flea/tick medication? Also is there anyone else with access to this room? Have you or anyone you may have been in physical contact with been to a pet store, or in contact with any pets dog or cat? Have you recently gone camping/hiking/fishing? Any activities where you may have used or come into contact with any bugspray, Off, Cutter, Perhaps even Skin so soft by Avon
    I am sorry for your loss and your current situation I will try to think of some other areas of contact. If I can think of any I will be sure to post them as well
  8. hardlucktattoo

    hardlucktattoo Arachnobaron

    Also you may wish to post a warning. But mention that it is just a possibility and you are not accusing them of being the source.However should it be proved to be the source I might make an edit to the post or an update at least I would still try to gey in contact with the seller at least to let them know there is a possibility of it recurring and see what they say . again sorry for your losses :?
  9. desertdweller

    desertdweller Arachnoprince

    Thank you for this detailed report. I have never had this problem but my sympathies are definitely with you. What a helpless feeling! Hopefully only good can come from your information and very kind thoughts for your ailing T's.
  10. metallica

    metallica Arachnoking Old Timer

    did you check the spiders on nematodes?
  11. hardlucktattoo

    hardlucktattoo Arachnobaron

    what are nematodes?
  12. Moltar

    Moltar ArachnoGod

    Nematodes are worm-like internal parasites. I don't see how they could spread through a collection that rapidly or kill so quickly.

    Geez, 6string, i'm sorry for your losses. That really sucks. Thank you for documenting this outbreak for the rest of us. Hopefully we can learn something from it.

    Thinking... ... It just seems odd to me that any disease could spread so quickly to animals in adjacant cages, even if they were very close. When spiders exhale they don't blow breath across the room like we do so how could it have spread so quickly?

    I'd think carefully about what possible environmental factors could have caused this. People often seem to have the impression that houses are airtight, they're not. If someone sprayed outside your home the pesticide could easily have gotten in through the eaves or the hvac intake. Also, you didn't say much about the dancing, herky herky spastic motion usually exhibited in DS cases. Was there much of that or did they just seem to keel over?
  13. Whatever is killing my spiders continues today. The infected specimens appear worse and the near dead h. maculata is dead.

  14. hardlucktattoo

    hardlucktattoo Arachnobaron

    Any News on the conditions
  15. My house is relatively isolated at the top of a hill, I really can't think of anything coming in from outside that could cause this.

    I didn't describe the jerking motion much because I posted videos of it, it's definitely there and it's very painful to watch. The video of the p. regalis is the worst, I'm struggling to get it off my phone now.

    It's a house so no danger of pesticides coming in from another apartment.

    I do have a dog and we use a monthly product called Frontline to prevent fleas and ticks. That is worth considering, but I can't think of anything different that may have happened to expose the spiders to it. Socrates is about a year old and he's been using Frontline since he was 3 months.

    I'll think over this possibility and talk to the wife about it as well, see if Socrates has been in the spider room more than usual.
  16. hardlucktattoo

    hardlucktattoo Arachnobaron

    It might not necessarily be directly from the dog If I remember correctly front line is what you put between the shoulders and rub it in If you pet the dog for like the first two weeks after and didn't wash them then handled or maybe even watered the cages they may have been exposed
  17. crpy

    crpy Arachnoking

    I'm gonna go there with this;
    can you trust everyone in your home is friendly with "T"s:?
  18. Kid Dragon

    Kid Dragon Arachnoprince Old Timer

    Sorry for your loss. Thank you for taking the time to post and warn others of the possibility. I had boid encephalitis wipe out a few of my boas and pythons many years ago, it was spread by a Typhiod Mary that had mites, so I feel your pain.

    I hope the rest of your collection stays unaffected. I would be concerned about the food, water, and insecticide possiblity and not rule anything out. Keep us posted. Good luck.
  19. Flying

    Flying Arachnoknight Old Timer

    I'm sorry to break it to you but your answer is in your previous post. You have used Frontline. It is one of the strongest household pesticides and is most likely the cause of death. Experiences from the past (going back half a year to just two weeks) tell me that this is it. I advice you to remove the Frontline from your house as fast a possible and hardclean all enclosures with infected tarantulas aswell as everything else that it came in contact with.

    A bit of info, dyskinetic syndrome is the loss of control over the tarantulas nervous system. Be aware that the tarantula cannot control its fangs and as such cannot eat. If you want to keep them alive then you'll have to manually feed and water every specimen. There have been cases where the syndrome was gone after a moult but there have also been cases where it persisted after a moult. It's your own call though.

    Also I personally do not believe that it is contagious but since I don't have any scientific evidence to say it isn't best thing to do is to move these spiders away from the rest.
  20. hardlucktattoo

    hardlucktattoo Arachnobaron

    Perhaps it is different in Belgium but in the states Front line is used as a flea and tick repellent for dogs and cats perhaps it is the same And I just misunderstood either way it believe it could be the source