Brown Recluse spider bites pose greater risk in children, Vanderbilt doctors say

(Photo: Brown recluse spider. Image courtesy of the CDC Public Health Image Library.)

Vanderbilt doctors are warning the public about the greater risks of complications for children when bitten by a Brown Recluse spider.

Doctors say the usual sign of a brown recluse spider bite is a painful, blistering skin lesion. Recently, country music artist Meghan Linsey was raising awareness about the dangers of brown recluse spider bites following her own painful experience.

"In rare cases, the bite also can cause a severe illness called systemic loxoscelism, characterized by a blood clotting disorder and hemolysis, destruction of red blood cells," Vanderbilt University Medical Center said in a news release.

Doctors said patients with the above symptoms often don't know that they were bitten, but that loxoscelism should be suspected. Children are much more likely to develop a systematic syndrome, doctors said after reviewing more than 2.4 million patient records electronically stored at the hospital.

"In severe cases, treatment may require hospitalization, blood transfusions and other supportive measures," VUMC said in the release.

Jeremy Warner, M.D., M.S said African-Americans may also be at a higher risk.

"We were inspired to carry out this analysis after treating a patient with a particularly striking episode of hemolysis several days after a brown recluse spider bite,” he said. “He lost literally half of his blood supply over the course of 24 hours but was ultimately OK.”

Warner, who is from the northeast, had never seen a case of loxoscelism before.

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