The belief that the bite1 of the spider Latrodectus mactans,2 common in the southern half of the United States (fig. 1), is poisonous for man has been recognized for centuries.3 Evidence for the truth of this belief has rested largely on the statement of patients that immediately prior to the onset of their symptoms they had been bitten by a spider answering the description of Latrodectus mactans.4 In other cases, the spider alleged to have been responsible for the bite was caught and identified as a member of this species by competent arachnologists. Many physicians accepted this evidence of their patients and reported cases of spider poisoning in the scientific literature.
Bogen,5 in a comprehensive review of the literature on this subject, has collected nearly four hundred cases of this kind, ranging from the year 17203b to 1931. Twelve cases in which a fatal outcome was attributed to the bite
BLAIR AW. SPIDER POISONING: EXPERIMENTAL STUDY OF THE EFFECTS OF THE BITE OF THE FEMALE LATRODECTUS MACTANS IN MAN. Arch Intern Med (Chic). 1934;54(6):831–843. doi:10.1001/archinte.1934.00160180003001
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