Dangerous arachnids—Fake news or reality?

Outpost31Survivor

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https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0041010117302696#!
Volume 138, November 2017, Pages 173-183
Review
Dangerous arachnids—Fake news or reality?

Author links open overlay panelTobias J.HaukeaVolkerHerzigb
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.toxicon.2017.08.024Get rights and content

Highlights



The increasing popularity of pet arachnids urges some governments to take protective steps to prevent serious envenomations.


A literature review was carried out to assess which arachnids can be classified as potentially dangerous.


About 0.5% of all spider and 23% of all scorpion species were classified as potentially dangerous.


Even envenomations from the most dangerous arachnids have a low percentage of serious or even fatal consequences.


We conclude that the public threat from pet arachnid envenomations has been overrated.

Abstract
The public perception of spiders and scorpions is skewed towards the potential harm they can inflict in humans, despite recent scientific evidence that arachnid venom components might be useful as bioinsecticides or even human therapeutics. Nevertheless, arachnids are becoming more popular as pets in Europe, America and Asia, raising the question for regulatory agencies in these regions as to whether they need to take measurements to protect their citizens. In order to decide upon the necessary regulatory steps, they first need to determine which arachnids are actually dangerous to humans. This review therefore provides an overview of the current literature on verified bites and stings from spiders and scorpions with the aim of assessing their potential danger for human health. As a guideline, we also provide a list of those arachnid genera that we consider as potentially dangerous, which includes 10 spider and 11 scorpion genera. The arachnid genera classified as dangerous comprise less than a quarter of all extant scorpion species and only 0.5% of all spiders species, with the actual number most likely being much lower than that, as not all species in those genera might turn out to pose an actual threat for humans. In conclusion, we found that only a small percentage of scorpions and a minute percentage of all spiders can be considered as potentially dangerous to humans. While in some countries of origin the high incidence of envenomations by dangerous arachnids can result in a serious problem to the health system, we assessed the risk that the same species pose when kept as pets under controlled maintenance conditions as significantly lower.
Too bad access to the whole article costs $36. But according to the Toxicon journal they are giving the hobby hots their seal of approval.
 
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mantisfan101

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Ok scorpions I understand. Keeping a lieurus or hottentotta in one’s room or house seems a bit too risky. Tarantulas are not. 0.5% of all spiders are dangerous, but what about the rest? I personally believe that maybe for species rhat are known for being extremely potent in terms of venom should be watched but others like salticids and Ts seem fine to me.
 

SonsofArachne

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As someone who keeps a number of "risky" species I believe that, even among invert keepers, the dangers are over-hyped. As long as you have well thought out safety procedures (and follow them) you can minimize the risks to almost nil. Scorpions and Sicarius are easily contained as they lack the ability to climb smooth surfaces. With my Phoneutria I made a sealed enclosure that never needs to be opened, with small openings with seals for food and water. And obviously if you have cats, dogs, or other pets that have the run of the house you should keep these inverts in a room with the door closed and - if you have children - locked.
 

Outpost31Survivor

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Yeah, the hobby is basically doing a balancing act between being safe to just being downright alarmist by nature. The statistics are very optimistically and overwhelmingly in favour of healthy adults. Don't get stung. If there is an incidental envenomation - please don't panic and curse your bad luck or carelessness in what will likely ultimately result in a unnecessary and costly hospital bill.

How much venom does it take to kill a human?
We don't know, exactly. The only information we have on the toxicity of scorpion venom in humans is from actual stingings (you can imagine how difficult it would be to get people to volunteer for a human LD50 study!). From clinical reports, there appear to be several factors that modulate scorpion venom toxicity in humans. The primary factors appear to be: 1) the toxicity of the venom of the scorpion involved; 2) the quantity of venom injected by the scorpion; 3) the size of the victim; and 4) the general medical condition of the victim. Scorpions not considered of any medical importance normally have venoms that are of low toxicity to mice. These scorpions normally produce a localized reaction similar to that a honeybee sting. They would have to be several feet long before they could produce and inject enough venom into a person to kill them. In scorpions with higher venom toxicity, systemic reactions become more common. It is a good thing that these species are not any larger than they already are, otherwise deaths from their stings would be more common. Several factors may affect the quantity of venom injected by a scorpion. Venom release is under voluntary control, so the scorpion itself can vary the amount of venom injected. Other factors may include the compositional state of the venom, penetration and duration of the sting, and the location of the sting on the victim's body. The most dangerous scorpions are those that are capable of injecting relatively large quantities of highly toxic venom. Body size of the victim is also very important. Children, because of their small size, are at greater risk of severe envenomation than are adults. Most deaths due to scorpion envenomation occur in small children. The presence of pre-existing medical conditions** such as pneumonia, hypertension, and certain heart ailments can turn otherwise normal systemic reactions into life threatening situations. Persons with such conditions are at greater risk of severe envenomation than are healthy persons. Some people are allergic to scorpion venom in the same way that some are allergic to honey bee venom. In such cases, very severe effects, including death, can occur very rapidly and are not related to the toxicity of the venom. Deaths due to envenomation by non-medically important species are usually the result of allergy induced anaphylactic shock.
http://www.wrbu.org/scID/sc_sting.html#much

** Diabetes.
 

Outpost31Survivor

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Here is more from Dr. Scott Stockwell:

What is the treatment for scorpion envenomation?
(I am not a physician. The information provided here is for reference and entertainment purposes only and should not be interpreted as a recommended course of treatment for scorpion envenomation. – Dr. Scott A. Stockwell) The sting of most species of scorpion is not dangerous to humans. The sting of these scorpions is usually likened to that of honeybee. Normally, no treatment is required. Just remain calm, relax, and wait for the pain to subside (30-60 minutes). The first-aid recommendations of the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center can be applied to all cases of scorpion envenomation. Usually, there is no perceptible swelling or discoloration at the site of the sting. Therefore, you may not be able to determine the exact location of the sting on small children. Only about 20 of the over 1050 known species have venom that is sufficiently toxic to cause death in humans. These few species are found only in certain parts of the world. Contrary to popular belief, the sting of even the deadliest of scorpions is not invariably fatal. Victims may experience a range of symptoms. Those victims experiencing local reactions or non-life threatening systemic reactions will likely make complete, rapid recoveries without visiting a medical treatment facility. The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center recommends cleaning the site with soap and water, cool compresses, elevation of the affected limb to approximately heart level, and an analgesic as needed for minor discomfort. Many people also take oral antihistimines to help relieve the pain from the sting, however, these may cause drowsiness and confuse a physician if a visit to the hospital becomes necessary. In any case of envenomation, it is important for the victim to remain calm and try to relax. Remember that the victim's chances of actually dying, even from a highly venomous species, are relatively small. Most people who seek medical attention after being stung by deadly scorpions are given basic first-aid treatment and released later the same day. Often, by the time a victim reaches a hospital, has filled out a bunch of insurance forms, and waited to see a physician, the pain has abated and they feel much better. The treatments provided at a hospital can vary greatly depending on the opinions of the physicians working there. Many physicians now advocate the management of scorpion envenomation symptomatically. Since every case is different, the treatment of each case must be different. Unfortunately, none of the treatments for scorpion envenomation has been clinically tested. Furthermore, the self-limiting nature of scorpion envenomation makes testing difficult. Most patients recover fully and rapidly without treatment, so it is difficult to say whether any particular course of treatment has any beneficial affect at all. While it is beyond the scope of this page to get into the clinical details of all the various treatments, it is instructive to look at some of the treatments that do not appear to work. There are many home-remedies and homeopathic treatments for scorpion envenomation. Most are probably not harmful, but probably don't help either. Occasionally, certain plants are believed to have curative powers. Parts of these plants may be applied to the wound, eaten, or worn around the neck. Scorpions are sometimes placed into a variety of oils, which may then be used as antidotes for envenomation. It is common in some places to drink a "tea" made from the offending scorpion. In other areas, the scorpion is eaten, either cooked or raw. I have even read of customs in which the scorpion's stinger is removed and "surgically" implanted beneath the skin of the victim. This latter treatment seems ill-advised. Many physicians have used powerful narcotics to treat scorpion envenomation. Morphine, meperidine chloride, amobarbital, etc. have been used in the past to treat severe agitation, a common symptom of severe envenomation in children. Most workers do not advocate their use now. The danger seems to come from respiratory depression which may be compounded by the envenomation, and lead to respiratory failure. Scorpion antivenoms have been used in the treatment of scorpion envenomation for a very long time. However, the efficacy of these antisera has only recently been clinically tested. Physicians are divided on the use of antivenom, which is usually available where dangerous scorpions are found. Many authors have reported that antivenoms are not effective in treating scorpion envenomation. Others claim that antivenoms definitely reduce the mortality rate from scorpion envenomations. Some of the problems with commercial antivenom include its method of preparation, its recommended dosage, and its method of injection. Ismail (1995) suggests that antivenoms produced from crude venom (not purified to isolate the specific toxins) are much less effective than antivenoms from purified venom. While their ability to neutalize whole venom, which contains many large molecules that are non-toxic, is good, their activity against the smaller, highly toxic venom molecules is lower than advertized. As a result, the actual dosages of antivenom required to neutralize the effects of an average sting are 10-50 times the recommended dosage on the label. Furthermore, antivenom is often injected intramuscularly. Venom is thought to be absorbed from the subcutaneous sting site much faster than antivenom. The venom therefore has the opportunity to exert its effects and be neutralized by the body before it can be counteracted by the antivenom. Ismail (1995) recommends that large doses of antivenom be administered intravenously for successful treatment.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are mine alone and do not represent the views of the Department of the Army or the Smithsonian Institution... or anybody else for that matter. – Dr. Scott A. Stockwell
http://www.wrbu.org/scID/sc_sting.html#treat
 

MintyWood826

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To me the real question is, how possible would it be to get extremely restrictive and ridiculous laws of some areas regarding inverts repealed? Fantasy or very small probably.
 

Entomologist210

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I have the full article and their conclusion is that "In summary, due to various reasons such as their small size, lack of vertebrate-active toxins, or their cryptic way of life, the great majority of arachnids are not capable of causing severe enveno-mations in humans." (Hauke et. al., 2017)
 

Outpost31Survivor

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Dr Scott A Stockwell has admitted he turned himself into a human pincushion with scorpion envenomations in the name of science and research.

BBC journalist and writer Martin Hughes-Games personally witnessed Stockwell get bitten by giant centipede and stung by a Deathstalker scorpion he free handled with no ill effects. Stockwell has been stung multiple times by the Deathstalker. Hughes-Games contacted Dr Stockwell probably post 9/11 because Stockwell was in Afghanistan but he recounted his worst scorpion envenomation to date. Was it a larger dosage of venom injected by the scorpion? Or a local variation in the toxicity of the venom? Or a sign that Stockwell should stop letting hot scorpions sting him? I don't know.
 
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Outpost31Survivor

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Why did the moderator delete my screenshot it was from google books preview it was posted up online for anyone and everyone to read. It has a huge chunk of the chapter The Bite Of The Giant Centipede featuring Dr Scott Stockwell posted up online, the title of the book is
A Wild Life: My Adventures Around the World Filming Wildlife by Martin Hughes-Games.

Copyright infringement? But its posted online for everyone to read?
 

Outpost31Survivor

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FYI, Martin Hughes-Games was the producer of the 2001 BBC1 documentary series, Steve Leonard's Ultimate Killers. And one episode was titled Chemical Killers, here is quick summary:

In "Chemical Killers", "I'm going to check out the most venomous animals on the planet. I want to find out which could kill me, or you the fastest," says Steve

It takes Steve three days, by plane and boat, to get to the tiny Indonesian islands where the first contenders live. Resembling scaly, prehistoric monsters, komodo dragons are confirmed man-eaters. Their mouths are packed with up to 70 different types of toxic bacteria, and one slashing bite from their razor-sharp teeth delivers a deadly dose of bacteria straight into the wound. After the attack, the komodo waits for its unfortunate victim to die of bloodpoisoning, about 72 hours later. What does Steve think of them? "Big teeth, big claws, bad breath."

Komodos are found only on a handful of islands in Indonesia but Steve's next contenders, spiders, are everywhere. Nearly all spiders have fangs to inject their victims with venom. The biggest spider in the world, the Goliath bird-eating spider, turns out not to be particularly venomous, but in Texas Steve tracks down the small and deadly brown recluse spider. Talking to Leanne and Robin, two unfortunate brown recluse victims, Steve says: "Their bites were genuinely shocking ... I really wasn't prepared for what I was about to discover." A single bite can have appalling results, causing horrible ulcers, terrible pain for years as the venom continues to digest flesh, and sometimes amputation.

Next, Steve encounters some highly venomous scorpions which specialise in extreme, agonising pain. Steve escapes without a scratch but expert Major Scott Stockwell is stung numerous times during the interview, including by the world's most deadly scorpion, the "death stalker". Scott knows that, as a big healthy adult, he's not going to die and has learnt to overcome the agonising pain by the power of his mind alone. But though scorpions won't kill healthy adults, they can kill the young and old from massive overstimulation of the nervous system, in about seven hours.

In the Australian outback Steve meets Graeme Gow, who has been bitten twice by the world's deadliest snake - and survived. The snake in question is the inland tiapan, and one bite contains enough venom to kill dozens of healthy adult humans. Graeme is also the most bitten man on Earth, having sustained 183 venomous snake bites to date. The tiapan that got Graeme injected only a microscopic amount of venom, but it was enough to turn him into "one of the living dead" for two years. Steve and Graeme find the snake way out in the outback where it lives and, as Steve gets close, he finds out why this snake has to be so breathtakingly deadly to survive there isn't much food out here and every attack matters.



I have scoured the net to locate this episode it can't be found.
 

Outpost31Survivor

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The late Lucian K Ross, a very passionate man (his nic here on Arachnoboards was Prymal), possessed a deep pool of scorpion knowledge. I have cut and paste some of his factual findings from the defunct ATS forum here:

The old contention that all buthids are "hot" and dangerous is a bit archaic in view and without much in the way of substantial evidence to support such an ominous blanket statement.

I will avoid a long and lengthy discussion of the subject. Instead, I'll just leave some food for thought and allow each person to form his/her own opinion on the accuracy of the above blanket statement.

To date, less than 35 scorpion species (all but two are members of the largely cosmotropical family Buthidae) have been implicated in human fatalities. The family Buthidae currently contains 82 genera (48.5%) and ~783 species representing 46.1% of all described extant (recent) scorpions (~1700 species). How many species within the taxon Hottentotta have been implicated in substantiated human fatalities? How many fatal envenomations have been attributed to Ananteris terueli, Babycurus gigas, Centruroides hentzi, Compsobuthus werneri, Grosphus limbatus, Isometrus maculatus, Lychas obsti and Uroplectes planimanus?

To date, human fatalities have been attributed to 33 species within only 8 buthid genera (Androctonus, Buthus, Centruroides, Hottentotta, Leiurus, Mesobuthus, Parabuthus, Tityus), which represent only 4.2% of the ~783 buthid species!

The GREATEST majority of fatal scorpion envenomations are found within TWO age groups:

0-5 years
6-15 years

True or false?

Fatal envenomations in adults and the elderly are EXTREMELY rare incidents. True or false?

Sadly, even the stereotypical "deadly" scorpion, A. australis does not live up to its horrific fear-babe reputation as a bold and aggressive killer of men! For example, a report by Balozet (1971) records 1,260 envenomations by A. australis during a 16-year period in southern Algeria, with only 24 (1.9%) resulting in mortality. In another report from Tunisia (Goyffon et al. 1982), 2,672 envenomations by A. australis were recorded during 1967–1977. During this period, only 12 (0.5%) fatalities were reported. In all, 3,932 envenomations by A. australis were reported with a total of 36 (0.9%) fatalities recorded!!! In comparison, here in Detroit, we have 600—780 murders per year (these statistics are based on bodies that are actually found or reported to the police).

List the statistical evidence that indicates that the elderly are a primary group in fatal scorpion envenomations?

LOL!
Luc

Only in a few studies. The majority of studies indicate that groups consisting of adults 44-years of age or older are the least affected by envenomations.
Bergman (1997) in studies of P. transvaalicus envenomations in Zimbabwe reported that children under 10-years and adults over 50-years were equally susceptible to severe systemic reactions and mortality. Overall, scorpion envenomations typically cause morbidity among adults and high rates of pediatric mortality.

However, when discussing venom toxicity levels (LD50 values) it's important to remember that there exists problems in the LD50 methods and that there are problems associated in assessing the actual venom toxicity levels in scorpions. Venom toxicity levels are dependent upon various abiotic and biotic factors such as genus, species, age; structure of mammalian-specific target components; structure of the telson; cardio- and neurotoxic components; physiological and feeding states; victim's sensitivity, age, weight; the amount of venom injected and climatic factors.
Another problem in assessing venom toxicity levels is that MOST medical, toxicological and toxinological studies focus on a particular geographic population. Several reports indicate that VTL's can vary greatly among geographic populations. For example: the most commonly cited LD50 value for Androctonus crassicauda is 0.32 mg/kg. However, LD50 values can range from 0.32 (Egypt) to 11.5 mg/kg (Turkey). And, while A. australis has been responsible for hundreds of deaths throughtout the Saharan and Arabian desert regions, no fatalities are reported for populations in Israel (Levy & Amitai 1980: 4). LD50 values for A. australis range from 0.32 to 6.0 mg/kg.

Lastly, LD50 values should be approached with caution. The LD50 value of H. tamulus (sindicus) is 4.57 kg/mg. This species has been implicated in human fatalities. The LD50 value for V. spinigerus is 5.87 mg/kg and no fatalities have been attributed to this species! Close but no funerals!

Luc

http://www.atshq.org/boards/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=12341

I need to look into more recent studies and see the statistics. Also, I found on this same forum a second hand account of a keeper allegedly stung three times by their deathstalker without any serious endangerment or impairment to their health.
 
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Bob Lee

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Keeping a lieurus or hottentotta in one’s room or house seems a bit too risky.
Why, are we planning a murder here?

If not I don't see the issue, it's not like we are dumb enough to stick our hands in there or leave the container open.

RIGHT PEOPLE?
 

Outpost31Survivor

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Why, are we planning a murder here?

If not I don't see the issue, it's not like we are dumb enough to stick our hands in there or leave the container open.

RIGHT PEOPLE?
That is absolutely 100% true, I have kept both Androcs and Deathstalkers in my bedroom before without any issues or fears. They sat on a rather large desk in fact.

To that I add what I fear is "hotdoggin daredevils" exploiting these animals for their own personal profit or just to be edgy jerks amongst friends or on the internet. Personally, a Grade II reaction or envenomation would be quite disconcerting. I don't want to experience it. These are very dangerous inverts but in case of an incidental envenomation things look very optimistic too. Don't panic. To paraphrase Dr Stockwell, any healthy adult over 120 lbs should be able to survive any scorpion sting.

But not respecting them or not being a mature keeper, but being an attention seeker or a daredevil or simply believing yourself to be bullet proof is inviting disaster (like the young man in the video I posted in the T.stigmurus thread). And not promoting proper safe husbandry of medically significant scorpions to others could endanger them too.
 

Outpost31Survivor

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Big NO-NO!: The passive behavior of this Androctonus scorpion really really troubles me, possibly its poor health or exposed to low temperatures. But the individual that uploaded this video probably believes its completely tamed.

 

ArachnoDrew

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Big NO-NO!: The passive behavior of this Androctonus scorpion really really troubles me, possibly its poor health or exposed to low temperatures. But the individual that uploaded this video probably believes its completely tamed.

I know the person in this video and that's my old hector specimen hes holding Haha
 

Outpost31Survivor

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I know the person in this video and that's my old hector specimen hes holding Haha
Wow really? Was it captive raised? I assumed excessive handling and/or environmental factors contributed to the scorpion's passive behavior. Anyways, I am not the least bit interested in handling an Androctonus that's for sure.

A clinical FYI for anyone following the thread:

2. Immediate Envenomation Symptoms
Commonly, the symptoms of scorpion stings are mainly observed in the peripheral nervous system. Stings in children, the elderly, and immunocompromised people are much more dangerous than in healthy adults. Following a sting, symptom progression is rapid. However, serotherapy is very effective when a specific antiserum is rapidly injected; victims typically recover within one hour after administration.

Three stages of severity are described [18]. First, an immediate intense and persistent pain (up to two hours) is the dominant clinical sign. During this unthreatening stage I, other discrete general symptoms can be observed such as agitation, febricula, sweats, nausea, feeling of general faintness, and alternating blood pressure (hypertension or hypotension). During stage II, which is considered a severe envenomation, the body temperature increases and sweats, epigastric pain, vomiting, colic, diarrhea, priapism, hypotension, bradycardia, pulmonary obstruction, and dyspnea can appear. Vomiting indicates huge severity and necessitates specific monitoring. Stage III is only seen in 5–10% of stage II cases, and is potentially fatal. At this late stage, cardiac arrhythmia and myocardial ischemia explain the risk of cardiovascular collapse, associated with severe respiratory complications such as pulmonary edema, bronchospasm, and cyanosis.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6410273/#!po=0.310559
 
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