Thursday, February 28, 2013

Another one!

"Recent news coverage about the brown recluse spider in Iowa has sensationalized our situation and lead to unnecessary concern. The brown recluse spider is rare in Iowa. Less than one specimen per year is submitted to the Iowa Insect Diagnostic Clinic." — by Donald Lewis, Iowa State University Department of Entomology

PAUL HAS ANOTHER bite wound. Whether it's a brown recluse spider again remains to be seen, but it's certainly acting the same way as before. He's not quite as sick as last summer, but he has a big, ugly open wound, body aches, exhaustion, bite site and whole-leg pain and swelling. 

Perhaps neither was the result of brown recluse spiders, and he's extremely allergic to any kind of spider bite. We're hoping the thing drains today so that we can get some fluid for analysis. Meanwhile he's on heavy-duty antibiotics, and you know how that makes your stomach feel.

He noticed the bite when he woke up in his hotel room in Topeka while on tour with Five By Design. Based on the PubMed research papers he's been reading, the odds of being bitten by two brown recluse spiders are exceedingly low unless you have them in your home, but the odds of that are also low because if you have them, you don't just have a couple of spiders, you'd have hundreds, and we'd see them.

And all this comes on the heals of his having had minor, but quite painful, outpatient surgery for something else he endured while on tour, so all in all, they guy is suffering — and really sick of being sick.
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  1. I came across your post trying to research Brown Recluse. I have been bitten three times in less than a year. What I have learned is that the odds increase once you've been bitten. There are two things that can happen. The venom can penetrate your blood stream. It makes you sick. For me it included flu like symptoms, extreme lethargy and disorientation, and a wicked nasty taste in my mouth. That's actually the best thing that happens because if not; then the venom is concentrated on the surface and that is when the bad stuff happens - it eats away more flesh and causes the things that get sensationalized in the news.

    However, if it penetrates your blood stream, there will be remnants of venom in your blood stream for up to 8 years. It is difficult to shed. I haven't yet discovered any way to speed that process up. Various symptoms can reoccur - for me, it's been that taste in my mouth - will just show up again for a day or two and then disappear again. But what it also does, is attract more bites - so getting bit more than once is not rare. It actually increases your chances. I have gone for walks and had spiders come after me ... Its a weird sight. I've had witnesses to this phenomenon. I wish I was making this stuff up. It's like being the pied piper only to spiders and without the flute! I've sprayed my house - haven't seen spiders here. But they are everywhere and I myself am not a recluse so there's no avoiding them here in Texas.

    The tell tale sign that determines the brown recluse is in the wound. If there are visible puncture marks from the fangs and they turn black within 48 hours. The site usually is accompanied by burning as well as itching and blisters up.

    I have always had violent reactions to all insect bites and spider bites. Around here they carry staph and I've dealt with that twice. Brown Recluse bites are distinctly different. This time of year they are extremely active and even in areas of the country where they are considered "rare" - they are active enough that even lower numbers of them can still be a considerable nuisance and risk.

    I hope the wound is better and life has returned normal for Paul. Just some info in case it happens again.

  2. Dear Mel Ann,

    I'm grateful to hear from you!! Thank you SO much for taking the time to write.

    We have been mystified by the recurrence — not to mention, alarmed — and we were beginning to think we were crazy or cursed or both.

    Your experience is eye-opening! I can't wait to share this information with Paul and see if some of the things you mention trigger a recollection. (He's sleeping.) I personally don't think he's been the same since the first brown recluse bite not quite a year ago. He tires much more easily and seems not to have regained his full health ever since.

    If the venom takes a long time to fully leave one's system as you describe, that explains a lot. Let's stay in touch. You sound quite knowledgeable. Thank you, thank you.