Antivenoms for the treatment of spider envenomation

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Journal of Toxicology - Toxin Reviews, 2003, 22 (1), pp. 35 - 59
Issue Date:
2003-04-05
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There are several groups of medically important araneomorph and mygalomorph spiders responsible for serious systemic envenomation. These include spiders from the genus Latrodectus (family Theridiidae), Phoneutria (family Ctenidae) and the subfamily Atracinae (genera Atrax and Hadronyche). The venom of these spiders contains potent neurotoxins that cause excessive neurotransmitter release via vesicle exocytosis or modulation of voltage-gated sodium channels. In addition, spiders of the genus Loxosceles (family Loxoscelidae) are responsible for significant local reactions resulting in necrotic cutaneous lesions. This results from sphingomyelinase D activity and possibly other compounds. A number of antivenoms are currently available to treat envenomation resulting from the bite of these spiders. Particularly efficacious antivenoms are available for Latrodectus and Atrax/Hadronyche species, with extensive cross-reactivity within each genera. In the case of Latrodectus antivenoms this is of considerable importance in countries where antivenom is unavailable or where certain antivenoms are associated with an unacceptably high risk of adverse reactions. Moreover, Latrodectus and Atrax antivenoms appear to be effective in the treatment of envenomation by closely related Steatoda spiders (family Theridiidae) or the unrelated spider Missulena bradleyi (family Actinopodidae), respectively. The effectiveness of Loxosceles antivenom in the treatment of the necrotic arachnidism resulting from the bite of recluse spiders is less clear mainly due to late presentation of victims. Antivenom is also available for Phoneutria envenomation but is reserved only for severe cases.
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