The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) is issuing this health advisory on the extension of the expiration date for black widow spider antivenom (BWSA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The new expiration date for BWSA lot 0667018 is February 12, 2013 (previously labeled expiration date of 6/30/2012). The FDA recommends not using the expired diluents packaged with the BWSA and provides instructions on reconstitution of the BWSA (http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/SafetyAvailability/ucm314789.htm).
Black widow spiders (Latrodectus sp.) are endemic in our region with most of the reported cases of spider bites in Delaware originating from the coast. Supportive care, including analgesia, is effective for most persons with bites; but antivenom may be helpful for the sickest envenomated patients.
The major U.S. manufacturer of antivenom discontinued production several years ago. Although supplies are nearly exhausted nationwide, a replacement antivenom is in phase III trials; there will likely be a period of time during which licensed antivenom is unavailable.
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