The residents of northeastern town Sadiya – Upper Assam in India were attacked by large hairy spiders while they were enjoying a Hindu festival on May 8th. Two people have died from the consequences of these bites. The spiders came from nowhere and started attacking people and the festive atmosphere soon turned into panic.
A resident named Jintu spent a day at the Sadiya Civil Hospital after he became nauseous and felt excruciating pain in his finger. The consequences of the bite were visible two weeks after but he was thankful for surviving this horror. Another resident, Purnakanata Buragohain and an unnamed young boy did not survive this attack. Purnakata died after having an allergic reaction to the bite and the young boy also had an allergic reaction that resulted fatally.
People were constantly arriving to the Sadiya Civil Hospital with the same symptoms: excruciating pains caused by a spider bite; and some even carried the spiders to the hospital with them.
There was an alert in Tinsukia district, asking people to stay inside their homes during the night, which is the proper time for the spiders to wander about. The two bodies were cremated without being submitted to autopsy, which made it more difficult to find a solution to the threat. No one knew which spider it was and why it attacked all of a sudden.
On May 22nd a team of scientists led by Dr L. R. Saikia from Dibrugarh and Gauhati University came to Sadiya. The team camped in the invaded area for two days and gathered information and specimens. They stated that they cannot specify the specie but that the spider resembles the tarantula. They concluded that the spider is a highly aggressive one. The toxicity of their venom is yet to be tested. Dr Anil Phatowali, from the Sadiya Civil Hospital, claims that they cannot claim that the fatal outcomes of the spider bites in the two cases were caused by the spider’s venom, since that may have happened because of a severe allergic reaction. The patients also first visited witch doctors who cut their wounds with razors and burnt it after having drained the blood out, and this may have also been the cause of such results. Dr Phatowali also adds that the hospital is not equipped well enough to handle such crisis.
The one thing we can be sure of is that the spider is new in the area. This area does not have any venomous spiders nor it had any before. The panic that started to spread can be taken as proof to this claim since people are frightened because they have not seen anything like this before. They have encountered only common spiders but this spider is a highly aggressive one that attacks at any kind of action to scare it off. Those who tried to scare it off were attacked and as they claim, the spider leapt at them and buried its fangs.
Nevertheless, this spider is causing fear to the residents of Assam and they are trying to kill as many of them as possible.
These spiders were noticed approximately a month ago in Sadiya, Tinsukia district. After the death of two people, the panic started to spread enormously fast. Some claim that the panic is not justified since there are no venomous spiders in Assam that represent a threat to human beings.
Soumyadeep Dutta the head of a non-profit organization – Nature’s Beckon stated that there must have been a great disturbance in the spiders’ natural habitat that made them come out in swarms.