Certain spiders have cultivated a fearsome reputation of being quite venomous and deadly. Depending on where you are in the world, there is a high chance that there is a lethal spider nearby.
One example we have is Australia which plays host to several deadly spider species. These include the red back, the brown recluse, and even the funnel web which many consider being the most venomous spider in the whole world.
The dangerous bites of spiders introduce many negative symptoms to people. The worst-case scenario is that a bite may lead to death.
Despite that, the question must still be asked: are spiders really deadly?
Let’s learn more about how many people statistically die from spider bites.
Why Are Spiders Dangerous?
The bites of some spiders are venomous. The effects of this venom depend on the species of spider, the size and age of the spider, as well as the person who was bitten
In most cases, a spider bite will only result in localised pain and swelling.
However, there are certain occasions where the venom might cause more serious health problems. Here are a few symptoms that show when a spider bite is an emergency.
Fevers, Headaches, Nausea
Fevers, headaches, nausea, and vomiting are all common symptoms of being bitten by a venomous spider. Alone, these symptoms are not lethal. However, if the problems persist for a longer period of time, it may be an indication of an even more serious problem building up.
Chest Pains, Heart and Breathing Issues
More serious cases might even cause chest pain, an irregular heartbeat, and difficulty breathing. These are all indications that the venom might be causing serious damage to your cardiovascular system and you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Severe Allergic Reactions
In some people, a spider bite may cause a severe allergic reaction. In fact, some people are allergic to the touch of certain spiders as well. This might manifest itself in the form of hives, difficulty breathing, or anaphylaxis leading to anaphylactic shock.
Anaphylactic shock is a potentially life-threatening reaction where the person’s blood pressure drops suddenly and they have difficulty breathing.
Necrosis is the medical term for the death of cells in your body. In some cases, the venom from a spider bite might cause the tissue around the area of the bite to die. This can lead to secondary infections and might even require amputation in severe cases.
A Spider’s Venom
There are two types of venom that are found in spiders – neurotoxic and cytotoxic. Neurotoxic venom works by affecting the nervous system while cytotoxic venom directly damages tissue cells.
Most spider bites are not fatal because the amount of venom that is injected is very small. However, there are some species of spiders whose venom can be quite potent.
For example, the funnel web spider has a neurotoxic venom that is known to be very dangerous to humans. A single bite from this spider can result in death within 15 minutes if left untreated.
How Many Spider Deaths Are There a Year?
In truth, there is no comprehensive study that collates the number of spider deaths over a long period of time, let alone throughout the entire world. Fortunately, there are studies spanning several ranges of years, and in several countries.
So the question is, how many spider deaths truly occur? Let’s look at several reports.
1989 – 1993: A US Study
One report was found covering the four-year period of 1989 to 1993 in the United States. The report showed that the number of spider incidents ranged just below 5,000. This paled in comparison to the number of dog bites which numbered over 800,000.
In terms of deaths, it may be of interest to note that dog bites result in 20 deaths per year. In addition, deer-related death incidents resulted in over 100 deaths per year.
The deaths from spiders per year in this period? Zero.
People may be surprised to hear about this information. They may even be sceptical due to the date the study was done. The number of spider deaths can’t be that low, right?
2008 – 2015: A US Study
Next, we go to a more recent spider study also from the United States. This study collated spider bite death information from 2008 to 2015. Within that seven-year period, the average number of spider deaths per year was just six.
Throughout this period, over 1,600 animal-related fatalities were recorded. This means that spider bites comprised just 3% of deaths.
It’s also surprising to learn that most animal fatalities didn’t come from savage wildlife beasts like lions and bears. Instead, 30% of deaths came from anaphylactic shock from bees, wasps, and similar insects.
Two studies down and one to go. It really brings up the question, are spiders deadly? Let’s see what one more study has to say about it.
2000 – 2013: An Australian Study
The final study we have is from Australia, covering the period of 2000 to 2013. In this study, the spiders begin to rack up some numbers, but not where it counts.
This study was able to collate that spiders were the second highest reason for hospitalisations, coming at almost 12,000. The only creatures to hospitalise more than they were hornets, wasps, and insects.
Bear in mind that these are only hospitalisations, not deaths. The number of spider deaths in this period was zero.
While recent studies elude us, these past studies show that deadly spiders are not as lethal as we think they are, especially in terms of how many people they have actually killed.
Things More Deadly Than a Spider
These recent studies have shown us that while spider bites are every bit as dangerous as we think they are, truthfully, spiders are not as lethal as we think they are. The number of average deaths in these countries shows that they don’t kill as much.
With that said, let’s take a look at several things more deadly than a spider.
The first creature on our list is a snake. Snakes and spiders are two creatures that have dangerous venom within their fangs. They also have multiple species. However, it seems that snakes kill more people statistically than spiders.
In the same Australian study mentioned above, snakes took the top spot for a number of deaths in that time period at 27.
Bees, Wasps, Hornets
Bees, wasps, and hornets also seem to be more deadly than spiders. In fact, statistics show that they are the biggest threat to public health, with 76% of hospital admissions being attributed to these flying venomous insects.
Most of the deaths from these insects happen due to an allergic reaction.
These are only a few creatures on the list. Despite that, it should show how deadly spiders are in comparison to other insects and animals.
If these studies have shown us anything, it is that spider bites do not result in as many deaths as one would think. As such, we can finally put the question of “are spiders deadly?” to rest.
Despite what the data shows us though, we cannot totally ignore the danger of spiders. While the number is low, the dangers from their venom are still real.
One of these days, the person who gets bitten by a lethal spider could be you or a loved one.
That is why it is always important to stay cautious and prepared. Stay prepared by learning the right first aid practices when these emergencies happen.
Learn first aid today with CPR First Aid’s Liverpool course.