/ 25 August 2004

Black widow spiders multiply in Ukraine

Thirteen Ukrainians were bitten by poisonous black widow spiders in one week, the newspaper <i>Segodnya</i> reported on Wednesday. Last week's incidents occurred in the southern Odessa region. All the victims were farm workers bitten while digging onions.

Thirteen Ukrainians were bitten by poisonous black widow spiders in one week, the newspaper Segodnya reported on Wednesday.

Last week’s incidents occurred in the southern Odessa region.

All the victims were farm workers bitten while digging onions.

One of the workers was hospitalised in severe but stable condition. The others were treated and later discharged.

Black-widow bites are a regular occurrence in Ukraine, where a large portion of the population works in low-technology agriculture.

The bite rate in onion fields in the Odessa region almost doubled the number of black-widow bites on all Ukrainians for all of 2003, the report said.

Large numbers of insects this season and worker carelessness are the probable causes of the increased rate this year, the report said.

Black-widow bites are rarely fatal but often serious, as the poison used by the spider is chemically similar to the venom of a cobra. — Sapa-DPA