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Doctors could misdiagnose brown recluse spider bites

For those of you who have a fear of spiders, news that North America’s deadliest spider is expanding its reach from Florida to some Midwest states may not make you feel better, especially when doctors could fail to diagnose the spider bite.

A study was recently conducted by the online science journal PLoS ONE and they examined the impact of climate changes on the brown recluse spider and how its environment is affecting humans. What they found is that it is hard for some physicians to diagnose in patients because they think that even though the spider is in their region, the likelihood of being bitten by one is rare. Researchers found out that the brown recluse’s venom eats away at the soft tissue near the bite area and could cause serious consequences for a victim, but the damage can be contained with proper medical treatment.

Researchers involved with the study feel that if they get the message out that these spiders are expanding their habitat, it will help medical professionals better diagnose a potential bite and get treatment going right away.

According to the study, the brown recluse is mostly concentrated in the southeast, but can be found from Florida to California. By 2020, parts of the northern states could start seeing an increase in the spider’s distribution. In addition, it appears that the recluse’s numbers are expected to dwindle in states with rising temperatures.

It’s a good rule of thumb to get checked out if you have been bitten by a spider and aren’t sure if it was a brown recluse spider bite or something else.

Source: International Business Times, “Brown Recluse Spider Spreading Into New Territory Throughout U.S., Scientific Study Says,” Ryan Villarreal, March 16, 2012

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