GUWAHATI, June 1 – Even as the State seems to be under the grip of a spider-phobia – thanks to irresponsible reporting by a section of the media – experts studying the two recent ‘spider-bite’ deaths have ruled out spider venom as a possible cause of the fatalities.
Dr LR Saikia, Head of the Dept of Life Sciences, Dibrugarh University, told The Assam Tribune that in the case of the death of Purnakanta Buragohain of Chaolkhowa-Nagaon, Sadiya, in Tinsukia district, none was sure that he was actually bitten by a spider.
“None including the deceased himself had seen any spider biting him. And from the nature of the wound and its after-effects, it seemed to be a case of snake bite, especially krait. Nothing, however, can be conclusively said, as no post-mortem was done,” Dr Saikia said.
On the second death, i.e., of Rituraj Gogoi of the same area, and widely attributed to a spider bite, Dr Saikia said that Gogoi was bitten by ‘something’ when he had put his hand into a termite mound.
“None could be sure what bit him, and in this case also the inflictor of the wound is likely to be a snake or even a rodent,” he said.
Apart from these two incidents, there have been 10-12 cases of reported spider bites in different parts of the State but none have proved to be fatal. Scientists believe that till date there is no evidence of the presence of any venomous spider in Assam.
“We would like to appeal to the people not to be panicky and indulge in a spider-killing spree. A spider can bite a human but that cannot be fatal. The media should also report in a responsible manner in such circumstances,” Dr Saikia said.
Dr Saikia said that some people were allergic to spider bites and this, together with the shock of a bite, could lead to some complications following a bite.
“In Assam, there is no evidence of any tarantula-like spider but we are also looking into the possibilities of any unrecorded or exotic species making a sudden appearance. The samples of the spiders caught or killed are being studied for the purpose,” he added.