Poisonous spider leaves woman in agony
Brown Recluse bites upper leg and toxic venom kills the skin
Friday, August 08, 2008 8:06 AM
Keva Ingham is expected to take up to a year to fully recover after being bitten by a spider as she cleaned out her closet.
Keva Ingham’s skin on her upper leg was killed by the toxic vermin from a spider bite. *Photos supplied
Brown Recluse spider
First recorded in Bermuda in 1983.
Is a medium sized, light to dark brown spider with long, slender, dark brown legs.
An adult female is bigger than the male and measures about 1.5 inches (40 mm or slightly larger than a 25 cent piece) from leg tip to leg tip.
It has six eyes (most spiders have eight).
n It is not good at climbing and are generally found on the ground and not in cobwebs.
It prefers dark, quiet places inside houses such as attics, basements and closets.
It is nocturnal, hunting for prey at night and is not commonly spotted during the day unless it has been disturbed from its resting place.
Information courtesy of Claire Jessey, entomologist at the Department of Environmental Protection.
The Brown Recluse spider bit a hole about an inch deep into the 25-year-old's upper leg. She was forced to go to hospital and a month later remains in pain and on antibiotics.
The bite mark bled heavily then the toxic venom from the spider killed the skin around the wound.
Miss Ingham initially thought she had caught her skin on the edge of the chair as she was sitting down to sort through the clothes in her closet at home in Warwick.
"I only realized it was a spider bite when I saw the spider crawling around in my closet," Miss Ingham said. "When I first got bitten I felt pain throughout my entire body. After a while my leg really started to hurt so I looked at it and saw a brown mark on it with a white ring. By the time it got really bad it was late evening. So I waited until the next morning to go to hospital."
When she got to the hospital she was put on a course of antibiotics that had to be injected every 12 hours for four days.
She was in so much pain she was forced to take 10 days off from her job as an apprentice framemaker at Glassworks in Dockyard.
"It's been horrible" she said. "Especially packing the wound with gauze. I've been in pain for a month now. Often the pain comes in surges. I can be anywhere and all of a sudden the pain will start."
Mom Geneva Ingham said the wound became dark coloured as the venom from the spider killed the skin around the area.
"After the second week the wound was bleeding a lot and needed to be changed often," Mrs. Ingham said. "The hole was about an inch deep and almost as wide. Changing the bandage was becoming a challenge as it was very painful for her. So back to the hospital she went where she was given tools to aid her such as tweezers, gauze and numbing gel to ease the pain.
"The whole procedure was traumatic because the hole had to be packed and it hurt her to remove the packing as well as to have it put back in."
More than a month after Miss Ingham was bitten, she is still treating the wound with oral antibiotics.
"The venom essentially ate my flesh and will take three months to a year to fully recover," Miss Ingham said. "I can't expose it to the sun in that time either in case I develop skin cancer."
Although her injury was severe, doctors told her it wasn't an abnormal reaction to the bite.
Claire Jessey, an entomologist at the Department of Environmental Protection, said the Brown Recluse is the only known spider in Bermuda to have a bite poisonous to people. The spider is thought to infest many houses across the island, but bites are "extremely infrequent."
"All spiders have the ability to bite, however the venom of the Brown Recluse is toxic enough to humans to cause a noticeable reaction." Ms Jessey said. "The bite of the Brown Recluse ranks second only to the Black Widow with regard to toxic bites in North America.
"Bites are often a result of spiders being disturbed during a 'spring cleaning' or a turn out of infrequently used items or areas. Spiders will bite if they have taken up residence in an old pair or shoes or coat pocket and are suddenly disturbed."
Ms Jessey added there are several ways in which you can make your home an unwelcoming environment for the Brown Recluse including shaking out clothing that has not been worn recently, carefully examining all items that have been in storage and regular vacuuming of infrequently used areas.
She also recommends wearing rubber gloves when clearing out cupboards or boxes and removing bedskirts from beds to prevent spiders from walking up them onto the bed.