Medically important spider bites in southern Africa

Keywords: spider bites, medically important, southern Africa


Few spider bites are of medical significance in southern Africa. Unfortunately, unexplained lesions are often erroneously attributed to spider bites, sometimes with grave consequences for the patient.1,2 Correct diagnoses facilitate timeous and appropriate treatment. Medically important spiders in southern Africa have either neurotoxic or cytotoxic venom. Here we provide a broad description of the most important neurotoxic and cytotoxic spiders in southern Africa, the clinical profiles of their bites, and the recommended treatment. We touch on clinical variation of bites and misdiagnoses.

Author Biographies

T L Bird, University of Pretoria

General Entomology, DITSONG National Museum of Natural History (DNMNH) and Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, South Africa

R Van Rensburg, Stellenbosch University

Division of Clinical Pharmacology, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

A S Dippenaar-Schoeman, University of Venda

Agricultural Research Council – Plant Health and Protection and Department of Zoology, University of Venda, South Africa