Brown recluse spiders belong to the Loxosceles genus, which comprises 103 known species. These spiders can be found in numerous regions all over the world, including the Americas, Asia and Europe. The brown recluse is notorious for inflicting bites that sometimes develop into necrotic lesions. In addition to tissue necrosis, a brown recluse bite can also cause a victim to develop a set of physical symptoms known as loxoscelism. Several years ago, a Dutch woman sustained a bite from a brown recluse while vacationing in Italy. The species responsible for biting the woman is commonly known as the Mediterranean recluse spider, and like many other exotic brown recluse species, the Mediterranean recluse has established a non-native presence in the United States. Unfortunately, the female victim was not spared the worst symptoms of a recluse bite, as the spider culprit had literally eaten away a part of the woman’s ear by liquifying the tissue in order to suck it up with its fangs. Not surprisingly, the victim developed tissue necrosis in her affected ear.
The female victim did not waste any time before seeking treatment at an Italian hospital. The doctors prescribed antihistamines in order to treat the swelling that resulted from the bite. Once the woman returned home to the Netherlands, the swelling in her neck and face worsened dramatically, and parts of her ear turned black, clearly indicating that cartilage cells had died. These symptoms made it clear that the woman had sustained a bite from a Mediterranean recluse, which is known for destroying skin and underlying fat. However, this woman’s injury was the first case in which a mediterranean recluse bite resulted in death to cartilage cells. In order to restore some shape to her ear, a plastic surgeon applied cartilage from the woman’s ribs to her ear. Despite the seriousness of this woman’s reaction to a Mediterranean recluse bite, most experts insist that such cases represent a small minority of recluse bites.
Do you believe that the seriousness of a brown recluse bite is understated by experts?