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Black Widow deaths

10th August 2006

10082006_black_widow_spider1.jpgHealth officials in Albania are investigating claims that one of the more venomous species of black widow spider has infiltrated southern Europe after at least two people have died from spider bites.

Several species of black widow are already found around the Mediterranean, but health officials believe that high temperatures have created optimum conditions for one of the other widow species.

Several hundred doses of antidote for the spider bites have been sent from Croatia, some of which will be used to treat the symptoms of people suspected of having been bitten by the spider. News of the deaths has prompted hundreds of people to visit emergency wards to have insect bites checked.

Dr Sulaj, the head of the Albanian ministry of health's clinic of toxicology said that 17 patients have been attacked by the black widow spider, and, of these, two have lost their lives.

He added that "The main worry is our belief they have been bitten by a black widow spider imported from abroad. It is well documented that... species are able to relocate, and we believe that the bites are from a species new to Albania that has come in from a ship."

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