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Posted: October 01, 2013

UNTHSC experts advise on how to deal with Halloween season’s sting, bite

CDC Brown Recluse
 Brown Recluse
courtesy CDC/Harold G. Scott
CDC Black Widow
 Black Widow courtesy CDC

Spider webs are as much a part of Halloween décor as carved pumpkins and witches' hats. And it makes sense because arachnids really do get busy in autumn. It's their mating season.

Texas has nearly 900 spider species, but only two are seriously poisonous to humans: brown recluse and black widow. You'll enjoy your Halloween activities more if you know what to do when you encounter creatures that bite or sting, like spiders, snakes, scorpions and centipedes.

Bottom line: If you're bitten by a venomous creature, seek medical help immediately.

UNT Health Science Center experts offer this advice:

  • Brown recluse -- It's a myth that using a Taser or cattle prod on the bite will "break up" the venom-so don't try it. Instead, apply ice, elevate the affected body part and seek treatment.

  • Scorpions can sting over and over - they don't die after a sting, as does a bee.

  • Snakebite -- The Wild West treatment is all wrong. No cuts, no sucking out the venom, no tourniquets. Instead:
    • Stay as still as possible.
    • Keep the wound below the heart to help slow the venom's circulation.
    • Remove constricting items near the bite, such as shoes, socks, rings or other jewelry, because the wounded area will swell.
    • Keep in mind that younger, smaller snakes are more aggressive and deliver more venom than older, larger ones.
  •  Bite victims should make sure their tetanus vaccination is current.

If you are with the media and need additional information or would like to arrange an interview,
please contact Jeff Carlton, Director of Media Relations, at 817-735-7630.


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