The recent swath of cold weather across the mid-west makes this hard to believe, but last week my pest control guy came over for a pre-spring treatment.
He told me about a customer of his who got bitten on her thigh by a brown recluse spider, so she called him to check her house out. Even though the pesticide he uses doesn’t kill spiders, it does kill its food supply.
In her bedroom, he noticed an old fashioned box spring — thinking it would be a good idea to spray inside it, he removed her mattresses.
To his horror he discovered 18, yes, EIGHTEEN brown recluse spiders living in her box spring — he told her he didn’t know how she kept from being bitten more than once, especially since brown recluse spiders come out after dark, when she was sleeping right on top of them.
Yuck. Brown recluse venom is actually more toxic than rattlesnake venom, it’s just that it’s injected into the blood stream in smaller amounts.
Despite the toxicity of the poison a brown recluse emits, a person may not feel the bite itself — they may notice it only after it turns red and forms a blister on top. WebMd states that in the hours that first follow a bite, it may itch and become increasingly more painful.
Things get a bit more harrowing several days after the bite, when the tissue and membranes around the bite begin to break down — a process known as necrosis.
Necrosis occurs because the venom of the brown recluse is actually an enzyme that kills cells and breaks down blood vessels around the bit.
While some victims of a brown recluse may not develop any complications from the bite, others may develop a systemic response resulting in chills, joint pain, fever and vomiting.
Currently, there’s not an anti-venom for the brain recluse — if the bite becomes infected, doctors prescribe an antibiotic and suggest ibuprofen or Tylenol for the pain.
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