Although spiders are widely feared, only a few species are dangerous to people. Spiders will only bite humans in self-defense, and few produce worse effects than a mosquito bite or bee-sting. Most of those with medically serious bites, such as recluse spiders (genus Loxosceles) and widow spiders (genus Latrodectus), would rather flee and bite only when trapped, although this can easily arise by accident. The defensive tactics of Australian funnel-web spiders (family Atracidae) include fang display. Their venom, although they rarely inject much, has resulted in 13 attributed human deaths over 50 years. They have been deemed to be the world's most dangerous spiders on clinical and venom toxicity grounds, though this claim has also been attributed to the Brazilian wandering spider (genus Phoneutria).
There were about 100 reliably reported deaths from spider bites in the 20th century, compared to about 1,500 from jellyfish stings. Many alleged cases of spider bites may represent incorrect diagnoses, which would make it more difficult to check the effectiveness of treatments for genuine bites. A review published in 2016 agreed with this conclusion, showing that 78% of 134 published medical case studies of supposed spider bites did not meet the necessary criteria for a spider bite to be verified. In the case of the two genera with the highest reported number of bites, Loxosceles and Latrodectus, spider bites were not verified in over 90% of the reports. Even when verification had occurred, details of the treatment and its effects were often lacking.