Untreated infection can lead to serious and possibly life-threatening complications, particularly:
- Cellulitis: A skin infection that has spread from the top layer of the skin into deeper layers
- Sepsis: Your body’s extreme response to infection in which chemicals in the blood trigger widespread inflammation throughout the body
Untreated sepsis can progress to septic shock, causing your blood pressure to drop dangerously low and your organs to start to shut down.
In the most severe cases of systemic loxoscelism, a person may develop:
- Hemolytic anemia: Red blood cells are destroyed faster than they can be made in your bone marrow, resulting in reduced oxygen delivery throughout the body and potential organ damage
- Thrombocytopenia: Low levels of platelets, blood cells that help form blood clots, which puts you at risk for excessive bleeding
- Kidney failure: The kidneys are injured by toxins in the venom, leading them to shut down and no longer be able to filter toxins and waste products from your blood
A 2017 study looked at loxoscelism cases ranging from 1995 through 2005. Of the 57 reported cases of moderate to severe loxoscelism, only two resulted in death. Both individuals—an older man and a young girl—were healthy prior to the bite.
It should also be noted that the study found 373 possible cases of loxoscelism over that 20-year period. The majority only led to minor symptoms that cleared up within a few weeks.