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The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Experts to check ‘spider bite’ deaths

Jorhat, May 22: A team of experts from Dibrugarh University and Assam Medical College will visit Sadiya sub-division of Tinsukia district on Thursday, to find out the truth about reports of two deaths caused allegedly by spider bite in the past couple of days.

The district administration has, however, denied that the two persons, including a high school student near Chapakhowa, died of spider bite. Deputy commissioner S.S. Meenakshi Sundaram told The Telegraph today over phone that panic has gripped Sadiya over rumours of a poisonous spider species being found.

He said the team of experts would have a person exclusively researching on spiders in Northeast, who will collect samples of different spider species and talk to people to know what led to their fear of spiders.

The families of the victims, Purnakanta Borgohain of Chaolkhowa village and Rituraj Gogoi of Chapakhowa, had claimed both had died after being bitten by a particular species of spider which was new to the area.

Sundaram said according to Zoological Survey of India data, no species of poisonous spider has been found in Asia till date and, hence, the possibility of deaths caused by spider bite was nil.

He said in both cases, doctors who attended the victims have confirmed they found no symptoms of death being caused by spider bite.

The deputy commissioner also said in the past month, about eight persons had claimed that spiders had bitten them but nothing happened to them.

He said massive awareness meetings are being planned by the administration along with the health department in different areas of the district, to ask people not to panic.

Sundaram said the deaths might have been because of Arachnophobia (fear of spiders and other arachnids such as scorpions).

Sub-divisional officer (civil) Kishore Thakuria said samples of two black-coloured spiders (one dead and one alive) of the same species, which a section of people claimed was new to the area, has been sent to the life sciences department of Dibrugarh University, to identify the species and whether they are poisonous.