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Tuesday, June 08, 2010

It Probably Was A Wolf Spider Bite

That, my friends, is a picture of a wolf spider. They can reach about four inches, including legs.

The one I killed in the kitchen last Thursday morning, which is probably the thing that bit my leg causing a fulminating infection, was only about three inches. After it was dead - I first noticed it in swimming around in the dog's water bowl, where I unfortunately seem to have shed it - I measured one of its legs. Over an inch and a quarter. One leg. The space between the two fangie things you see in the picture was about a quarter of an inch.

I did not squash it. I was dodging around and trying to get at the water bowl to heave it and the spider outside, but every time I got close the thing kept coming over the edge after my hand. (You can see why my mind has been running on monsters!) So finally I poured ammonia on top of it. Then it went down to the bottom of the bowl. It took about three quarters of an hour for it to die, at which time I poured out the water and examined the spider with great curiosity. Normally you are not going to get close enough to one of these things in an unsquashed state to get a good look at it.

I did not know it had bitten me - I thought it was a mosquito bite. But by Friday morning I had a ring of infection about two and a half inches in diameter surrounding a central double puncture. By Saturday, you couldn't even see the punctures in the center center, which had turned into a major swollen lump about three-quarters of an inch across, and the red circle was about six inches across. By Sunday the red circle was covering most of my lower leg, the center lump was over an inch wide, the top was ulcerated, and I was so sick I was considering calling someone to take me to the hospital. That was when I tried the amoxicillin, and it had a nearly miraculous effect.

I would not have believed that anyone could get so sick from a spider bite, but I did. Obviously there was some sort of bacterial infection from the bite. Rocephin did not work, but amoxicillin in high doses is working well, although I am still crabby, tired, and alternately feverish and chilly. There is still a lump of about half an inch around at the point of the bump, and when I get up and walk around very much I get a strange sort of toxic reaction - the leg will suddenly start stiinging, and then I start to sweat and feel really odd. I tried soaking it, but every time I do the same thing happens, plus fever.

In any case, that is why my responses to comments have been somewhat episodic. This will probably continue for a few more days!.

My recommendation is to kill these things, because they will just come back in the house if you chase them out. If they find a good hunting territory they return to it.

I am also considering a defensive moat of fire, because this is the second one I've killed in the house this year, and this is by far the worst insect bite I have ever had. They tend to live in ground cover or dried leaves. If you hear something really big rustling around in a pile of brush or leaves - something that sounds like a really clumsy mouse wearing combat boots stomping around having a temper tantrum - it is probably a wolf spider. They eat insects mostly, although I once saw one apparently munching on a small mouse.

More information on spider bites, and I quote:
While most spider bites are not dangerous, there is a group of spiders that can produce bite wounds that look similar to a brown recluse spider bite. Unless the spider was actually seen, captured and brought to the physician, the brown recluse spider is not likely to be the culprit. Some of the spiders in this group that can cause a nasty bite include the running spider, jumping spider, wolf spider, tarantula, sac spider, orbweaver spider and the northwestern brown spider, also known as the hobo spider.

What are the symptoms of a bite from these kinds of spiders?
In most cases of bites from these spiders, there is pain or burning at the bite site in the first 10 minutes. The bite from this group is usually described as looking like a "target" or "bull's-eye." The center of the wound is usually a blister surrounded by a reddened area. A pale or blanched area may surround the discolored reddened area. The blister may rupture, leaving an open ulcer. In severe cases the ulcer can become deep and infected causing tissue breakdown or tissue death (necrosis).

Worsening pain, itching and a burning sensation develop. A patient may also have symptoms such as a red, itchy rash over the torso, arms and legs that is usually seen in the first 24-72 hours. Patients may have pain in the muscles and joints, fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, headaches, and nausea and vomiting.
When I showed this bite to the doctor, he thought it was a tick bite because of the target-like appearance. A rapidly developing rash like this would be unlikely to be a tick bite (and I knew it was not, because I check myself all the time), but rather a spider bite.

There are over a hundred species of these things in North America. Not all of them are hairy. Now I have given you something else to worry about, haven't I?

The dosage of amoxicillin which worked for me was 500 mg every six hours. Eight hours is too long. Clindamycin is recommended, but the amoxicillin is working really well so I think I'll stick to it.

PS: I named the spider that I killed "Helen", because it is the only thing I've ever seen uglier than Helen Thomas. But come to think of it, the spider is more benign than Helen Thomas. I did the spider an injustice. I apologize to its spider spirit for the calumny.

MoM,I killed one of these in my kitchen 2 years ago,I thoght about using my .22 because it was so big,but the broom worked.I was unable to measure the squashed remains,but I would guess 3-4 inches.These suckers can JUMP,too.I hope you don't get a scar,I have one from an orb spider that looks like a bruise,it was unpleasant and I also used Amoxycillin effectively.Take it slow,that is a dangerous bite,Tom
You certainly do have an exciting life. Why don't you try boredom for a while just as a change of pace?
synchronicity? I just got off the phone with a friend who has been in the hospital for two days on IV antibiotics due to a spider bitemhe expects to stay for 2 more days.I had been leaving messages on his phones and a friend of his who is caring for his cat checked them and called to tell me where he is.He is recovering,thankfully.

I am also considering a defensive moat of fire...

I think that would definitely take them down, down, down.

Just a little "cash" humor for what ails you. ;)
Mark - I love Johnny Cash. Thanks.
Do you live on YouTube?

Tom - for some reason, wolf spiders are extremely prevalent in large areas of California. Somehow that fact never makes it into the real estate brochures.

As for kitchen removal procedures, I think a flamethrower would probably be the best option.

Fboness - I am still astounded. I never knew this could happen from a spider bite. I've been bitten a number of times before, but it was always a non-event.
Hah! That was my first thought, Tom. If we had four-inch spiders in the kitchen on a regular basis, I think I'd just carry a .22 on my belt.

I guess I'd need a caulk gun on the other hip, to patch the floor.

"Do you live on YouTube?"

I must admit that one of my favorite things to do is type phrases in YouTube's search engine and see where it takes me. I'm also a Wikipedia junkie. It reminds me a bit of opening the 1964 World Book Encyclopedia at random as a child. Oh the hours I spent doing that.

Simple things for simple minds! :)

Many people often ask me if I get bored in retirement. I can't remember the last time I was bored. I never grew up. I'll still play with the dog in the sprinkler. Life is still filled with wonder. I feel sorry for those who have lost he ability to enjoy the simple pleasures.
Quite the adventuress you are! Doesn't make a difference whether you seek it or it seeks you, after all.

Glad you have the infection under check.

Here's hoping for a quick return to normalcy.
MoM- Not to scare you, and I know you have the spider carcass to show as proof; BUT- There have been several instances where people have assumed "It's just a spider bite" when it's in fact a localized MRSA infection. Most often the body eventually fights the bug off with little consequence, BUT sometimes it becomes systemic and occasionally catastrophic. Please keep checking in with your doctor --be sure he's on speed-dial-- "Just In Case".

We worry about you!!
A_Nonny_Mouse - I know, BUT THANK YOU ANYWAY.

Also tetanus. It's a good idea to get a tetanus booster.
Flaming moat might work. However, I have had really good luck in keeping scorpions out of our house, on a slab foundation, in central TX, by keeping a soaker house all around the house, running it every few days, to keep the soil cool and moist. I know that up in Atlanta they still have basements, but not where you are? That would change things, somewhat.When you are feeling better, it might be worth a try. The moat is more satisfying, but the dampness strategy might be more effective. I feel a little sympathetic queasiness, thinking about the bacterial infection. Then there's the fact that that thing touched you. EEEyew! Hoping you get well, and soon.

Michael Adams
Between that and the attic-dwelling mole, that's quite the menagerie you've got there.

But in Illinois, we get hideous things like this. I'll take the spider, thank you.
Bob - you do have a humorous side.

The worst thing about Illinois is that you have to build special prisons to accommodate all your governors. This seems unfair to the general population.

Blago will need a prison all of his own for quarantine. I'd rather be locked in with a rabid wolverine.

The corruption of Illinois politics has always been thrilling to behold. It's just tragic that we've infected the White House, too.

I agree, Illinois politics has always been wonderful entertainment. It also usually worked well enough that it wasn't worth more than a shrug when somebody went to jail.

It's not funny anymore, for a number of reasons.
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