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Old 10-22-2007, 11:22 PM   #31
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I agree that the cause is less important than is the treatment. It may indeed be true that the BR is rare in Alabama and Florida. I may be true that Keltin does have valid evidence of the critter living and causing minor havock in his home state and Florida. But what I now is true is that Renee does have a problem that needs attention.

Renee; you are doing what you are supposed to be doing and I hope that whatever is the cause of your injury can be treated quickly and that you heal completely. Just remember, we here are members of cyberspace. We know much, but you have no way of knowing just what I am an expert at, and what I am not an expert at. And even if I were an expert, I am still a person, fully capable of making mistakes, especially when I am presented with incomplete information, as are all of us on this site.

I would not ever try to pass myself off as an expert on spiders, though I have studdied them off and on. I have seen pictures of teh violin, or banjo spiders, including the black widow, the brown recluse, and the banjo spider, all of which can be dangerous. I also know that the banjo spider is responsible for many of the bites attributed to the brown recluse. But again, that is just another possibility. See your doctor. Don't let him/her make snap judgements. Insist on finding out what ails you and get it fixed. That's all you need to know.

Oh, and I am an expert pancake maker, and sometimes, rarely, but somtimes, I even get my pancakes wrong.

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Old 10-23-2007, 12:33 AM   #32
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My concern was that misinformed doctors might misdiagnose Renee's lesion as a spider bite and that the misdiagnosis might cause a delay in appropriate treatment.

I'm not a doctor, but this is something that arachnologists talk about a lot; it's sort of a pet peeve of theirs that doctors often go with the "spider bite" diagnosis and miss the real cause of the lesion. And as any fan of "House" knows, any misdiagnosis can be dangerous!

I just didn't want Renee--or her doctor--to jump to the conclusion that it was a brown recluse bite when another cause is more likely.

Sorry if I came across as an obnoxious know-it-all. That was not my intent. I'm just an insect-and-spider geek; didn't mean any harm.

Renee, I hope you are feeling better, and I hope it is not anything serious, spider bite or otherwise.

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Old 10-23-2007, 04:33 AM   #33
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Run, don't walk to your doctor appointment. These bites can be very dangerous.
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Old 10-23-2007, 09:01 AM   #34
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We have plenty of brown recluse spiders in this area, and I've seen some awful looking bites. I've had two, possibly three bites, but I'm not very allergic, although each was a little worse than the first, and took a long time to heal up. I think it may make a difference where you are bitten, also. A friend of mine was bitten by one who was in her blouse when she put it on, and the bite was right at the juncture of two veins on the bottom side of her upper arm. It was horrible looking...made a giant purple blister that ended up taking out all the skin almost to the elbow. The doctor at first thought she'd need skin grafts, but because she was only 20, it healed well and she didn't need them after all.
Last week my daughter cleaned out my upstairs closets for me, and came downstairs with a plastic bag that had a couple of dead spiders in it. She worked for Terminex for over 10 years, and she knows her stuff. She said when she spotted the hinged legs, it caught her attention, and sure enough, there was the little violin. She suggested we spray.
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Old 10-23-2007, 09:39 AM   #35
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Indigo Swale, I was glad to see you inject (ouch) a little scientific knowledge into this discussion.

My house is full of brown recluses--they are the most common house spider around here (Missouri Ozarks). I don't know anyone personally who has had a necrotizing wound from a brown recluse, and my family has lived in this area forever.

Most doctors don't know squat about entomology, and they misdiagnose necrotizing wounds as spider bites.

California, for example, has a very high number of reported brown recluse bites, and very very tiny number of actual verified brown recluse spiders, because THEY DON'T LIVE THERE.

From the University of California at Davis
Brown Recluse and Other Recluse Spider Management Guidelines--UC IPM (and a similar article from Florida 2004 - Bronson Urges Closer Consideration:

"There are fewer than 10 documented cases of the spider being collected in California, spanning more than 4 decades, typically in facilities that receive goods from out of state. Searching the immediate area yielded no additional brown recluses and therefore they were considered to be individual stowaways.

Undoubtedly, more brown recluses have been inadvertently brought into the state via commerce and the relocation of household belongings; however, amazingly few specimens have ever been collected. Never have any of these translocated spiders been able to establish a foothold and start a population in California.

Considering that there are millions of brown recluses cohabiting with people in the southcentral Midwest and brown recluse bites are only an occasional occurrence there, California does not have anywhere near sufficient populations of these spiders to be responsible for the number of cases or illnesses that are attributed to them.


One reason for the great "awareness" of the recluse spiders throughout the United States is that necrotic wounds are misdiagnosed as "brown recluse bites." Although recluses can cause these wounds, the biological data involving the distribution of the spider indicate that most of these diagnoses are incorrect.

A world-renowned toxicology physician who worked at University of Southern California Medical Center estimates that most spider bites in California referred to him were actually the work of other arthropods and that 60% of "brown recluse spider bite" diagnoses came from areas where no Loxosceles spiders were known to exist.

Nationwide, some "brown recluse bites" were subsequently correctly diagnosed as Staphylococcus infection, Streptococcus ("flesh-eating bacteria") infection, Lyme disease, herpes simplex, diabetic ulcer, or bites from bedbugs, mites, ticks, small wasps, biting flies, or other spiders.

In addition, in one case where the offending spider was killed in the act of biting, a Californian doctor misidentified the spider as a brown recluse even though the spider had eight eyes, stripes on the cephalothorax, a patterned abdomen, and spines on the legs.

In any event, 90% of all brown recluse bites in the Midwest heal without severe problems and millions of people have lived there for years without experiencing bites."
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Old 10-23-2007, 10:00 AM   #36
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Wow, I didn't mean to stir the pot with this thread!
First of all I want to thank everyone for their stories, advice and concern about my bite.
Went to the Dr.'s this morning and she did agree it was a spider bite of some sort, but admitted she couldn't tell for sure what kind. She did say it was a good thing I didn't put off coming in. I am on antibiotics, and have to go back once a day until Friday and again on Monday for her to check on it. She is a little concerned that I do spend a lot of time at my barn in less than sterile conditions though. She says to keep it bandaged and wear a surgical glove while at the barn to make sure that no barn grime gets into it.

Thank you again guys for all your input. I felt better going this morning because of your words of experience and wisdom.
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Old 10-23-2007, 10:17 AM   #37
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Glad you went. One thing that the scientific info fails to touch on is individual sensitivity to spider bites. I got bit by a recluse, saw it happen, went immediately to first aid and was asked "why did you wait until you got here to have someone look at it?" It was that big within 5 minutes and a small crater was forming. We got it cleaned and antibiotic ointment on it fast enough that it didn't get too much worse. I react badly to any bite, they get very big and red. I have to keep up on my tetanus shots because of it.

Anyway, I'm glad you went. Keep it clean and dry.
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Old 10-23-2007, 11:01 AM   #38
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Renee, so glad you got checked out and things are OK. You didn't stir up a hornet's nest. I think there is lively discussion about things like this because it's stuff we all worry about or have experience with from time to time. And you know, we probably all learned some things in this thread that may serve us well some day. So really, you did a public service for your fellow DCers by sharing!!!
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Old 10-24-2007, 06:31 PM   #39
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I'd go see the doc regardless if it was or wasn't a brown recluse. You don't want to take the chance of infection.
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Old 10-28-2007, 10:21 AM   #40
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Glad to hear that all is going well, Renee, and do please be careful in your barn. Thanks for your update. 15 years ago I was bitten by a spider in Lousiana (the doctor could see the circular mark left by the spider's mouth) and already 24 hours later septicemia (blood poisoning was setting in---you could see the red streak moving up my leg). He told me that spider bites are terribly filthy and infectious as a result. It doesn't have to be a brown recluse to cause possibly major problems. And with the "flesh-eating, antibiotic resistant bacteria--aka staph aureus" out there it pays to be on the safe side whether it's a spider bite or not. I think going to your doctor to play it safe is always advisable. And the more info that they have to work with the better.

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