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Black widow spider now calls Sweden home

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Black widow spider now calls Sweden home
18:28 CEST+02:00
The feared black widow spider has established itself in Sweden, according to the country's National Museum of Natural History (Naturhistoriska riksmuseet).

The museum has been sent 10 specimens of the poisonous spider in only the past year.

The black widow's venom is known as one of the worlds strongest animal poisons.

According to the museum's Bert Gustavsson, it's no longer a question of if or when the black widow will come to Sweden – it's already here.

“One example is a guy from Värmland [in western Sweden] who imported a car from the United States. The car stood in a garage for three years. When he went to move the car, a spider crawled out. They had three years to propagate,” said Gustavsson.

According to Gustavsson, the species is well suited for Sweden's climate. It's found in central Canada and the northern United States, where the climate is colder in the winter and warmer in the summer.

“Besides, the black widow is a predator and doesn't need any specific food in order to survive,” he said, adding that he reckons the spider is in Sweden to stay.

The country's poison control offices have already received calls from people who've been bitten by the black widow.

“Our advice is for people to take it easy so that the poison doesn't spread, and then get to a hospital,” said Anna Landgren, a doctor with Sweden's Poisons Information Centre (Giftinformationscentralen).

Sweden currently lacks supplies of the antidote to black widow venom, leaving those who suffer the muscle spasms and high blood pressure which can accompany a black widow bite to fend for themselves.

While there have been deaths from black widow bites reported from other parts of the world due to black widow, no deaths have been reported in Sweden, and according to Landgren, 80 percent of victims end up with mild symptoms such as sweating and cramps.

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