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Hoax - 'Dangerous 'New Known Spider' Spreading In Australia'


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Outline

Circulating message warns you to watch out for a very dangerous 'new known spider' that is spreading across Australia. The message includes a picture of the spider along with a series of images supposedly depicting a wound caused by a bite from one of the spiders.

Spider Hoax
©Depositphotos.com/karenr



Brief Analysis

At least for Australia, the claims in the warning are untrue. The spider shown in the message is a Brown Recluse. Brown Recluse spiders are not spreading across Australia as claimed. The spider and wound images in the message are derived from a much earlier spider-warning message set in the United States. Sending on this bogus warning will help nobody.

   

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Example

This is a new known spider, so please take note
Has been found all over Eastern Aust and heading to WA.

Looks similar to a huntsman.
This spider is in all states so watchout.

Not a good look!!
Please take note of this spider - it is very dangerous.
Please warn kids and send to every one you know to alert them as well!
This spider is breeding at a rate of speed and is found in more and more houses!!!!
Please ensure all the family takes a good look at this spider..........
maybe some should not look at the photos of the person who got bitten on the thumb and the end result.......
but take note of what the spider looks like. If it looks like a huntsman and you are not sure..........
unfortunately, but for your safety's sake........KILL IT!!!!
Spicer Hoax Image
Note that the message includes a series of gory images showing a wound to a person's hand that was supposedly caused by a bite from the spider.


Detailed Analysis

'New Known Spider' Warning Continues Circulating

According to this would-be warning, a very dangerous 'new known spider' is rapidly spreading across Australia and Australian residents should take careful note of its appearance, and kill it should they encounter one. The message includes a picture of the spider along with a series of images depicting a wound on a person's hand that was supposedly caused by a bite from one of the spiders.

The warning has busily scurried across Australian in-boxes and social network pages since 2008.

Australian Experts State That Warning is a Hoax

Thankfully, however, the Australian version of the warning is an outright hoax. 

The pictured spider - a Brown Recluse - is real and venom from the spider can cause necrosis around the area of the bite.

However, the Brown Recluse is not spreading across Australia as claimed in the warning. And, the images in the message come from an earlier US based warning and do not show a bite from any Australian spider.

An article on the Queensland Museum website dismisses the message as a hoax noting that, while the Brown Recluse spider has been in a 'very restricted suburban area in a southern Australian State' for more than twenty years, it has not extended its range and there have been no recorded bites attributed to the species in Australia. A second article on the Australian Museum website also dismisses the warning as a hoax.

Despite suggestions from some commentators, the wounds in the images were not caused by Australia's White-tailed spider either.

Derived From an Earlier US Version

In fact, the message is just a modified version of a much earlier US based warning message that includes the same spider picture and the same set of wound images.

And, even the original US warning remains unsubstantiated. As noted, Brown Recluse venom can cause necrosis, so it is possible that the images do show the results of a Brown Recluse bite. 

However, necrotic wounds can result from a variety of agents and the actual cause of the wound depicted in the images has never been confirmed. US spider expert Rick Vetter notes that if the images do depict the results of a Brown recluse bite, the case would be 'truly one of the rare, horrific ones' and certainly not the normal outcome of such a bite.

The original US version tends to overstate the risk posed by Brown recluse spiders. And, certainly, the US warning has no relevance to Australia whatsoever.

 

Sharing This False Warning Pointless

It is high time that this hoax was laid to rest.  I first wrote about the hoax back in 2008. But, several years on, it continues to circulate and has now spawned a social media version.

Sharing the false information in the message will help nobody.

   

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©Depositphotos.com/ronleishman


Last updated: December 17, 2015
First published: July 10, 2014
By Brett M. Christensen
About Hoax-Slayer

References
Spider hoax clogs inboxes Australia-wide
Brown Recluse Spider email hoax
White-tailed Spider
Rick Vetter notes