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A Bite in Botswana

Was it a Bat, a Fly or a Spider?


Updated February 21, 2012

A Bite in Botswana

A reader submitted this picture showing a bite he received in Botswana. The Spider Bite Picture Gallery is full of mysterious bumps and bruises that folks often blame on spiders. This image -- and the story that goes with it -- shows just how difficult it is to diagnose a spider bite unless the spider is munching along when you see it.

I did not see a doctor because I was not in any discomfort. I did ask several locals what they thought and opinions were split between a Tse-Tse fly and a spider. The wounds "sweated" for a couple of days so some thought that meant it was a spider. I am not so concerned if it was a spider, but I am worried if it was a bat since very serious consequences could develop years later.

Bats versus spiders versus Tse Tse flies? You'd think the size of the wound alone would sway you one way or the other. However, spiders can be large and bats can be small, so I can see how difficult it is to guess. The exotic nature of the region makes it even harder.

So what does one do in that situation? Look for the same thing you should watch for in any wound: signs of infection.

  • Oozing
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Fever/chills
  • Pain

Any opinions expressed here are for educational purposes only and are not intended for diagnosis.

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