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Katipo is a venomous spider found in New Zealand and some parts of California. Katipo is a Māori name and means “night-stinger”. A bite from the katipo produces a toxic syndrome known as latrodectism. Pain, muscle rigidity, vomiting, and sweating are the hallmarks of latrodectism.

The symptoms recorded are the effects of bites. The seat of a bite becomes immediately painful and swelling occurs. In some cases the swelling does not come on until some days after the bite. In one case, five days after the bite, a scarlet papulous rash appeared on both extremities, burning like fire. Lassitude, faintness, twitchings, and in one case trismus were noted. The symptoms were somewhat slow in evolution, and in a fatal case, that of a girl bitten on the abdomen, death did not occur until six weeks after the bite.


Delirium, half smothered by imperfect intoxication.─Nervous depression.

Anxious expression.─Extreme pallor changing to blue tint, of face and body.─Jaws stiff very soon, could not open mouth to eat, and could scarcely articulate.

Lost all desire for food (after a fortnight); lingered six weeks and then died.

Very severe drawing or cramping sensation in abdomen.

Respirations almost ceased.

Almost pulseless.─Pulse slow, scarcely more than twelve or fourteen beats to the minute.

Severe shaking, burning pains ran from the bite on the foot up the limbs to back, accompanied by nervous twitching all over body soon; pain felt almost equally in both limbs, and seemed to centre about heel.─Feet felt as if rudely lacerated by dull instrument, waking him from sleep (immediately).

Suffered long, wasting and losing all energy, some having appearance of one going into a decline; it was three months before he rallied and six before he recovered.─Nervous twitching all over body.─Suddenly became faint and pallid.─Large quantities of whisky produced little impression, except a feeling as though affected side was drunk.

Small, red spot like flea-bite.─Bitten surface raised, as large round as teacup, the raised part white with red halo; with pain; swelling and pain > by spirits of Ammonia.─Swelling size and shape of hen’s egg; pain > by ammonia, but not the swelling.─The bite remained a small purple point for nine days, on the tenth began to swell and turn white like a bee-sting; pain and swelling rapidly increased, dorsum of foot and ankle like a puff-ball, red streak running up leg.─A bright scarlet, papular eruption on both lower limbs, which stung and burned like fire.

Extremities cold and flaccid.─A cold, clammy sweat covered l. lower extremity; in morning sweat covered both limbs.

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