Ever heard of necrotic arachnidism? Chironex fleckeri? Trypanosomes? Sponge face?
These are the less than cheery subjects of a book I got this morning at Auntie's, Spokane's favorite bookstore.
Psychologists tell us that human beings are born with an innate fear of spiders and bugs, snakes, and a couple of other dangerous creatures. I was born without this fear. I have induced grown men to whimper by picking up a spider or a cicada or a tobacco worm.
I may want to re-evaluate the situation after reading Pamela Nagami's wonderful book, Bitten: True Medical Stories of Bites and Stings. She tells tales of people killed by swarms of fire ants, a lethal spider (which lives only in and near Spokane), an almost indiscernible jellyfish, as well as snakes, snails, ticks, flies,mosquitoes, ferrets, rats, dogs, and the occasional Komodo dragon.
Necrotic arachnidism is what results when you are bitten by a venomous arachnid, like Spokane's hobo spider. Chironex fleckeri is a particularly nasty Australian jellyfish. Trypanosomes are the little guys that give you sleeping sickness; they are delivered by the tse tse fly, beloved of crossword puzzle afficianados.
Sponge face is what they call you when you've been attacked by the protozoans passed along in the bite of the sandfly, Phlebotomus argentipes. And don't underestimate horses. They don't often bite people, but when they do the wound can produce a pretty disgusting infection.
All-in-all, this is the creepiest thing I've read since The Gashlycrumb Tinies.
Update: This post is from 28 December 2006. Last year we pulled some stored bedding out of the guest room closet and there on the floor were a couple of dozen dead hobo spiders. Since then we've found them (always dead) under a night stand and elsewhere. Fortunately, for reasons nobody seems able to understand, they don't go above ground level so we see them only in the basement and so far only dead ones.