Sicarius spider bites

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The genus Sicarius, Six-eyed sand spider, occurs in the more arid areas of southern Africa, with seven endemic species present in the region. These unique spiders are Gondwanaland relics that also occur in South America where these continents once joined. Sicarius are reddish brown spiders, have six eyes, and are dorsoventrally flattened with legs extending laterally. They bury themselves just below the sand surface and when uncovered are camouflaged with the tiniest sand particles adhering to the body, camouflaging it to the colour of the sand.

Due to its habitat with low human occupation and its reluctance to bite, Sicarius appears to be of minor importance as far as envenomation is concerned. Few suspected cases are on record and recently a confirmed bite presented with only mild envenomation. Test done on rabbits indicate that Sicarius albospinosus and Sicarius spatulatus  could be problematic. Experimental animals bitten by Sicarius presented with massive tissue destruction and  death (77%), a postmortem revealing destruction of the internal organs. Disseminated intravascular coagulopathy (D.I.C.) resulted from the envenomation. These spiders must be regarded as potentially lethal. No rabbits challenged with Loxosceles or Cheiracanthium furculatum venom died.

Treatment and the differential diagnosis are as for Sac and Violin spider bites with the addition of D.I.C.

Text by Norman Larsen


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