Some of the stories that make headlines can serve as cautionary guides. Tales of being aware and following one’s instincts are impressionable enough to give us all pause.
This past June, 5-year-old Kailyn Donovan was doing what most kids are doing this time of year – enjoying the warm outdoors. She didn’t pay attention to the bruisy-looking mark on the back of her knee and her parents chalked it up to a run-of-the-mill bug bite. At first.
After a few days, the mark grew bigger and started changing colors, becoming darker. Kailyn also came down with a fever and was sent home from school. The family’s pediatrician advised her mom Kristine and dad Josh to take the little girl to a local E.R. near their Massachusetts home.
She was diagnosed with a spider bite though doctors couldn’t pinpoint the type, and was sent home with antibiotics. Kailyn’s condition didn’t improve, so her parents took her to UMass Memorial Medical Center. There she was seen by a pediatric infectious disease specialist who concluded she’d been bitten by a black widow spider.
The doctor explained that the black coloring was a result of the spider’s venom causing necrosis. When tissue cells die off, they become discolored. The black widow is the most venomous spider species in North America, but did you know there are three types? Western, southern, and northern.
Female southern black widows are known for the red hourglass marks on their underbellies. Southern black widows’ habitat is in the southeastern region of the U.S. Northern black widows have a “break” in their hourglass but also have several red dots on their backs.
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