Maricopa Medical Center gets new black widow antivenin

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PHOENIX -- Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix is conducting a clinical trial on a new antivenin for black widow spider bites.

Hospital officials say the new drug neutralizes the venom injected by the spider and eases the pain patients suffer.

There were more than 2,500 black widow bites documented nationally in 2008, but the actual number of bites is thought to be much higher.

Maricopa Medical Center is the only hospital in Arizona participating in the trial. Another black widow antivenin exists, but it is scarce.

Because this is a randomized trial, not everybody will get the new antivenin, explained Dr. Dan Quan of Maricopa Medical Center.

"Some patients will receive the antivenin and some will not," he said.

Black widows are shiny black with red or deep orange hourglass markings on their bellies. Their bites can cause intense pain, sweating, shortness of breath, sensitivity to light and headaches.

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