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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Things that bite: hysteria, truth, tips

A black widow spider's bite can cause serious reactions.Snakes, yes (previous post, recent article).

And black widow spiders (article).

And scorpions (article) (they are apparently “overflowing” with poison this month “after their long winter slumber” - sheesh).  There are 21 varieties of dangerous scorpions in Israel. The riskiest are the yellow ones and the black ones with large tails.

And, um, jellyfish (article)??? 

I know, they don’t bite… but still.  Ick!  Ouch!

The article about jellyfish calls this type “wired wanderers” – but when I google the species, only that one article comes up, which makes me think they made up the name. 

In any event, this significantly SMALLER article doesn’t name the species, but does debunk some of the hysteria over giant killer jellyfish that has apparently been rampant throughout Israel. 

“Even though there are killer jellyfish in other parts of the world, Spanier said, the "possibility is very low" that Israelis are at risk. The sting of the non-lethal variety of jellyfish causes minor burns, which tend to go away within the hour as long as they are treated correctly.”

What to do about it???

Well, not much, besides cower indoors or in big cities.

Magen David Adom suggests that you “wear high-topped shoes and long pants when [entering] areas with tall grasses and rocks.”  Also, when you’re camping you should “shake out clothing, shoes, sleeping bags and tents to remove any dangerous creatures.”  How ‘bout we just not camp, okay?

If you’ve been bit:

  • What bit you?
    • Snake:  take its picture (including its skin pattern) – to blog about it, of course!  Ha ha ha, no, to give to the people who are trying to save your life after you’ve been bitten.  Call Magen David Adom – phone number 101 – and do whatever they tell you to do.
    • Spider:  Rinse with water and soap, cool the area with ice. If there is significant swelling or pus, fever, vomiting, muscle or abdominal pain, excessive sweating or black or blue areas around the bite – or if things get worse over 24 hours – seek medical help.  Most Israeli spiders are not dangerous, except the Mediterranean recluse, which has a white violin-shaped pattern on its back and lives indoors and the less common black widow, which is is small and shiny black with red spots on its back, and usually lives outdoors.
    • Scorpion:  note its colour and tail size.  Call Magen David Adom – phone number 101 – and do whatever they tell you to do.
    • Jelly:  pour vinegar or salt water over the affected area.  If you develop allergic symptoms, call Magen David Adom – phone number 101 – and do whatever they tell you to do.  Take comfort in the fact that you haven’t, technically, been “bitten.”
  • Never suck toxin from the wound
  • Do not cut the skin to remove it
  • Do not use a tourniquet or cool the area (except for a spider bite; see above)
  • Do not give the victim alcohol.
  • Do not try to catch it.  Okay!
  • Stay as quiet as possible; do not let a victim (like yourself) move.

This is a way better list than I could have come up with on my own.  My own list would likely have included “action items” such as:

  • Scream
  • Cry
  • Blame Ted
  • Stomp around violently in a random and possibly deadly attempt to kill whatever it was that hurt me
  • Cry some more
  • Blame the children
  • Try olive oil on the wound
  • Cry a lot
  • Die –?

So there you go – listen to the experts and you’ll be okay, all summer long, until those critters stomp back into their caves, or wherever they lurk all winter, to recharge their poison supplies and come back to get you a few months later…

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