Wikimedia Commons/Sony Pictures
Three young brothers have been hospitalised after letting a black widow spider bite them in the hopes it would turn them into ‘Spider-Men’.
The boys have not been named, but are aged eight, 10, and 12 and live in the town of Chayanta, in the southwestern Bolivian department of Potosi.
The youngsters are clearly fans of the Marvel superhero franchise, in which Peter Parker is bitten by a radioactive spider and develops spider-like abilities, but they failed to realise the story is purely fictional.
While tending to the sheep owned by the family, the three boys found a black widow spider and came up with the idea that if they let it bite them they would develop superpowers.
Their mother was reportedly out collecting wood while the brothers taunted the black widow with a stick and allowed it to sink its fangs into their skin. Rather than developing powers, they quickly started to develop symptoms from the venomous bites, which can include muscle pain and spasms, abdominal cramps and increased heart rate.
Black widow spiders are known to be extremely venomous, with their venom reported to be 15 times stronger than that of a rattlesnake.
Despite this, most people who are bitten by the spiders do not suffer any serious damage, though the venom can be fatal to small children, the elderly or the infirm. Black widows are typically non-aggressive and only bite in self-defence, which may explain why the boys had to provoke this particular spider with a stick.
The shocked mother returned to find her sons crying as a result of the symptoms, so she quickly took them to the Chayanta health centre where they were given medicine for the bites.
When their conditions failed to improve, they were taken to a hospital in the town of Llallagua before being transferred to the Children’s Hospital in the Bolivian capital La Paz.
Virgilio Pietro, the Head of Epidemiology of the Health Ministry, said the young boys continued to suffer from muscles pains, sweating, fever and generalised trembling until they were treated with a serum, which proved effective.
Their health improved and after five days they were allowed to go back home to their family.
Pietro, who discussed the case at a press conference, urged parents to help children understand the difference between fact and fiction, commenting: ‘for children everything is real, films are real, dreams could be real, and they (children) are the hope of our life.’
Though they might still dream of being superheroes, hopefully the boys will have learned that a black widow bite won’t be their origin story.
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