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Spider’s bite leaves its mark

Managing editor

“Ouch! Something just bit me.”

It happens all of the time — in houses, gardens, and even riding in a vehicle you realize you’ve been bitten, and go on about your life.

Those pesky summer insects and arachnids are persistent this time of year as they prepare for the onset of cooler temperatures.

Chris Stuchlik, 46, of rural Lincolnville, doesn’t know for sure where or when it happened, but something bit him on his upper left arm.

The next day, Stuchlik didn’t feel well when he went with his son to a Boy Scout event Aug. 15. He was running a fever, so he rested that day, thinking the illness would pass.

In the meantime, his arm where the bite occurred had swelled. By evening, his feet were swollen and he had hives on his chest and arms.

“I’m allergic to bee and wasp stings,” Stuchlik said, but he knew this wasn’t a sting and it was obvious he also was allergic to whatever bit him.

Stuchlik went to St. Luke Hospital emergency room. It was determined that he had been bitten by something, possibly the day before. He was injected with a dose of steroids and Benadryl. His lungs and vital signs were checked, which were OK.

A return to the doctor Aug. 18 confirmed that it was a spider bite, possibly that of a brown recluse. Another injection of steroids and one of antibiotics should relieve some distress. As of Friday, Stuchlik still had remnants of hives and the swelling had reduced in his extremities.

The Marion County native is a truck driver for Cardie Oil Company and wears a company shirt that has short sleeves.

“It must have been in my shirt,” Stuchlik said.

There is a blackened area on Stuchlik’s arm where the initial bite occurred. Surrounding the bite mark is a sore, red area.

About spiders and their bites

Only a few spiders are dangerous to humans. Black widows and brown recluse spiders can be found in Marion County.

Both prefer warm climates and dark, dry places where flies are plentiful. They often live in dry, undisturbed areas, such as closets, woodpiles and under sinks.

A violin-shaped marking on its top can identify a brown recluse spider.

The bite produces a mild stinging, followed by local redness and intense pain within eight hours. A fluid-filled blister forms at the site and then sloughs off to leave a deep, enlarging ulcer.

Reactions from a brown recluse spider bite vary from a mild fever and rash to nausea and listlessness. On rare occasions death results, more often in children.

The female black widow gives the more serious bite, but its bite rarely is lethal. The spider can be identified by a red, hourglass marking on its belly. The bite feels like a pinprick.

Some may not know they have been bitten. At first, a victim may notice only slight swelling and faint red marks. Within a few hours, intense pain and stiffness begin.

Other signs and symptoms of a black widow spider bite include chills, fever, nausea, and severe abdominal pain.

If a bite occurs, clean the site well with soap and water. Apply a cool compress over the spider bite location.

If possible, make a positive identification of the offending insect or arachnid. If the spider bite is on an arm or a leg, tie a snug bandage above the bite to slow or halt the venom’s spread. Seek immediate medical attention. Treatment for the bite of a black widow may require an anti-venom medication. Doctors may treat a brown recluse spider bite with corticosteroids.

These days, Stuchlik and his family keep their eyes open for spiders as they do for bees and wasps since they now know of Chris’ allergies.

“Chris shakes his clothes before he puts them on — just to be sure,” Chris’ wife, Melissa Stuchlik, said with a smile.

A close eye will be kept on the bite area. If an ulcer appears, surgery may be needed to remove the poisoned layers of skin. Otherwise, Stuchlik should fully recover in a couple of weeks.

Last modified Sept. 2, 2009

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