A venomous spider indigenous to Australia is in Japan and its population is growing in large numbers, striking fear in the hearts of the residents of Fukuoka prefecture. There have been 68 reported sightings of the redback spider in September of this year alone, reports The Asahi Shimbun.
One of Australia’s two poisonous spiders and a relative of the American black widow, the redback was believed to have come to Japan through cargo containers and prefers temperatures of about 25 degrees, staying in areas near ports. It was first sighted in 1995 in the Osaka Prefecture but has since then spread to 22 prefectures in Western Japan and was first identified in Fukuoka in 2007. The redback isn’t aggressive but its bite can cause pain and nausea and may be very dangerous for children and the elderly. Antivenom serum, however, is widely available. There has been only one reported, but unconfirmed, death in Australia resulting from a redback’s bite.
Unfortunately, it seems that the country’s antivenom stock has expired. The antivenom was acquired in 2010 and expired by August this year. Luckily, the serum still had some effect left to save an elderly woman who was bitten in September. Attempts for an organized eradication of the spiders seemed to have failed as the central Japanese government places the burden on local governments and organizations.
[ via The Register ]