The brown recluse spider is making news these days after a college student named Nikki Perez suffered a serious necrotic bite. Perez was passing through the Amarillo, Texas, airport at the time. I could have told her what a bad idea that was, though my own hassles there involved a rude security guard. Perez lost part of an ear and feared for her eyesight.
The other interesting development is a study at the University of Kansas that suggest the spiders may move their range northward.
The report linked here deals with these issues and has fewer blunders than most, which isn't saying much. The bit I've excerpted quotes Rick Vetter, who likes to point out that doctors know nothing about spiders and often misdiagnose lesions. Vetter, by the way, also doubts the danger of the hobo spider, an issue I've written about on this blog before.
As mentioned in my books, I've been bitten by these spiders many times, usually when my curiosity led me into ill-considered prodding. I never suffered anything worse than a momentary flash of pain. That, or no reaction at all, is the most common outcome.
Rotting-Ear Case the Work of Deadly Brown Recluse Spider - ABC News:
""My crusade is to stop stupidity in the medical community," Vetter said.
When doctors blame a skin lesion on the brown recluse, they might overlook other more serious conditions such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), diabetes or even lymphoma.
In a 2005 article he co-wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine, Vetter cited 40 other conditions that can cause necrosis often misdiagnosed as a spider bite.
Vetter was so tired of doctors blaming the much-maligned spider, he started the Brown Recluse Challenge. Of 1,800 specimens sent to him, only 350 turned out to be the real deal. And all were from the Midwest.
A brown recluse bite can be life-threatening in 10 percent of the cases, but Vetter estimates there are only one or two deaths a year, typically in small children."