Brown recluse spider

Brown recluse spider

The Brown recluse spider belongs to the genus Loxosceles in the family Sicariidae. Its scientific name is Loxosceles reclusa. It is a venomous spider native to the United States and inhabits a region that stretches from the Gulf of Mexico to the southern Midwest. A majority of the reported cases of Brown recluse spider bites come from Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.

The Brown recluse spider is normally not aggressive against humans, but it can bite if it feels threatened and unable to escape. You can for instance be bitten if you put on a garment without first shaking out any hiding spiders. Checking your shoes before you put them on is also a good habit that will guard you against a wide range of different poisonous animals. The Brown recluse spider is often blamed for wounds that are actually not caused by this species, and estimations show that up to 80 percent of the reported bites may have been incorrectly diagnosed. Brown recluse spider bites are in fact quite uncommon.

Brown recluse spider bite first aid
If you get bitten by a Brown recluse spider you may not notice it, since the bite itself can be virtually pain free. If you know, or suspect, that you have been bitten by a Brown recluse spider, you should place an ice pack on the spot and seek immediate medical attention.

Try to remain still and ask someone else to capture the spider. Capturing the spider might of course prove impossible in many cases, but if you do manage to bring in the suspected culprit to the hospital it will be much easier for the hospital staff to avoid misdiagnoses.

Brown recluse spider bite treatment
A bite from a Brown recluse spider will typically be treated with antibiotics. Topical as well as oral antibiotics may be used, and sometimes they are combined with each other. In some cases, surgery will be required to remove remaining toxin and dead tissue. If toxin is left in the wound, it can cause further tissue death.

The Brown recluse spider venom acts a vasoconstrictor and it is therefore possible to use nitroglycerin to counteract the venom. The nitroglycerin is typically administered in patch form and will cause vasodilation. This form of treatment does however come with noticeable side effects. Nitroglycerin will prevent tissue death by allowing fresh blood to flow to the bitten area, but it will simultaneously allow the venom to enter the blood stream. The venom will be diluted in the bloodstream, but is usually still potent enough to produce fever and nausea in the patient.

Brown recluse spider bite effects
A majority of the bites will not lead to any severe effects, but the venom is strong enough to cause necrosis if you’re unlucky. Severe dermonecrotic lesions can appear and bitten persons can also develop so called viscerocutaneous loxoscelism which can be lethal. Viscerocutaneous loxoscelism have severe systemic effects and can set in even before you have realised that you have been bitten.

If a necrotising wound is formed, it can take several months before it heals and it will leave deep scars. Some wounds caused by Brown recluse spider venom have even lasted for years. Around the wound, soft body tissue will become gangrenous, die and decay. Severe wounds can eventually reach a size of 10 inches (25 centimetres), but this is rare.

Brown Recluse Spider Facts


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