Distribution and medical aspects ofLoxosceles rufescens, one of the most invasive spiders of the world (Araneae: Sicariidae)

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Loxosceles rufescens is a circum-Mediterranean spider species, potentially harmful to humans. Its native area covers the Mediterranean Basin and Near East. Easily spread with transported goods, it is meanwhile an alien and invasive species to nearly all other continents and many islands. This species occurs in semi-arid steppe-like habitats, typically under stones and in cavities, which enables it to settle inside buildings when invading the synanthropic environment. This review analyses the literature of L. rufescens bites to humans (38 publications) of which only 11 publications refer to 12 verified spider bites (11% of the reported bites). Two published allegedly deadly spider bites (Thailand 2014 and Italy 2016) involve non-verified spider bites and are thus not reliable. The symptoms and therapy of these 11 verified bites are described: only five cases showed moderate systemic effects, nine cases developed necrosis, four cases needed surgical debridement, all cases healed without complications within a few weeks. In conclusion, L. rufescens is a spider species globally spread by human activity, it rarely bites humans and the bites are less harmful than often described. There is no known fatal issue.HighlightsLoxosceles rufescens is a Mediterranean spider, globally spread and invasive in the human environment.We analyse 38 publications of L. rufescens bite reports to humans where only 10% were verified bites.Two published cases of alleged deathly bites (Thailand 2014, Italy 2016) refer to non-verified bites and are not reliable.All 11 cases of verified bites healed without complications within a few weeks.L. rufescens rarely bites humans, the bites are less harmful than described and there is no known fatal issue.

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