If you don’t like spiders, then you might want to stop reading here and go make sure you’ve got a can of RAID handy. It seems a new and previously unknown species of tarantula is invading a remote part of India, and authorities don’t yet know if the two fatalities (and counting) attributed to the spiders are from the bite itself or the witch doctor treatments terrified villagers are seeking.

From this story on
Large biting spiders have sparked panic in remote northeast India, but health authorities fear primitive treatment of the bites’ painful swelling may be more dangerous than the spiders themselves. Two people died in Tinsukia district after witch doctors used razor blades to drain the wounds.

It’s not known if the victims died from spider poison or from the attempted treatment. Local magistrate Kishore Thakuria said the victims were cremated before autopsies could be done. Another seven bite victims have been treated with antibiotics against infection after they also tried themselves to drain their wounds, said Dr. Anil Phapowali at the local Sadiya town hospital.

According to the story, the spiders, which are about the size of a thumb, were first noticed a month ago. Scientists haven’t been able to identify what, exactly, they are, so they cannot use anti-venom to treat the bites. Villagers are trying to keep the spiders at bay by keeping lamps on at night and posting guards at doorways. Anyone have a creepy spider story to top this one?