Black widow spiders have a flesh-eating venom and they are found all over North America, but they are rarely seen because they don't go after people unless they are disturbed somehow. A Massachusetts girl didn't even know she'd been bitten by a black widow spider, she didn't feel a thing.
The parents of little 5-year-old Kailyn Donovan thought she had an ordinary bruise on her leg and they didn't think too much of it, that is until it drastically changed in appearance. A black stripe appeared on her leg from behind her knee, according to CBS News Boston. The stripe was rationalized as an ordinary bruise by her parents, as it is the time of year kids are running and playing outside.
Little Kailyn was sent home from school by the school nurse because she spiked a fever. This is when the Donovans took Kailyn into the pediatrician, but he told them to take their daughter to the emergency room at the hospital. She was checked out at the ER and given antibiotics, assumingly because they thought she was fighting off an infection of some kind due to the fever.
Still, the black stripe remained and it wasn't showing any sign of dissipating. By now the parents are very concerned and they looked for help from an infectious disease specialist. Living in Mendon, Massachusetts, they are lucky to be near one of the hospitals that offer this type of specialty. They took Kailyn to one of the biggest hospitals in Massachusetts, UMass Memorial Medical Center.
The specialists at UMass diagnosed Kailyn's bruise as a spider bite, but not just any spider, it was a black widow spider bite that she was suffering from. Like the brown recluse spider, which is also found in this area of the country, the black widow's venom is flesh-eating. The venom actually kills the flesh around the site of the spider bite, which was happening to Kailyn.
The parents were baffled because she never complained about a bite and they didn't see the culprit that did this to her. Her mom thought it could have crawled into her jeans while the family was doing yard work. The doctor said the spider got on the 5-year-old outside someplace because they don't go after humans. They will only bite when disturbed.
Despite the specialists reassuring Kailyn's mom that the spider came from outside, she is not only having the yard fumigated for spiders but the inside of the house as well. Nelson of Norfolk County Agricultural High School told CBS News that the black widow spiders are very rare in this neck of the woods. It is also very rare that they bite someone. Like Kailyn's mom said, her daughter was at the wrong place at the wrong time. They most likely disturbed the spider with their yard work.
Kailyn is being treated with antibiotics and plenty of clean dressings on the bite area. She is recovering nicely from the bite. Dr. William Durbin, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at UMass, said they treat a couple of black widow spider bites a year, but they are rare in Massachusetts, according to the New York Post.
There are about 2,000 black widow spider bites reported every year in this nation and few are fatal. The fatalities are usually the very young or the very old. When it came to Kailyn's bite, it was very scary looking, not only to her parents but her doctors as well, as the black area you see on the back of her knee was due to cells dying.
According to The Washington Post, the Donovans want other parents to know,
"If you think it's something, just keep looking for an answer," Kristine Donovan told WCVB. "I kind of had a feeling it was pretty bad, and I just kept kind of pushing to have it checked out."
The parents did continue to push for a diagnosis that made sense. This wasn't an ordinary bruise and it wasn't getting better and while no one wants to hear their child was bitten by a black widow spider, if it does happen you need to know so you can get treatment for that spider bite, but first, it needs to be diagnosed.
[Featured Image by Robin Loznak/AP Images]