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Species ID for bite, biter never seen

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Joined: 29 Jan 2012
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 26, 2012 10:26 am    Post subject: Species ID for bite, biter never seen  Reply with quote

This happened about a year ago and I'm still curious as to what may have gnawed on me. Would love to read some educated opinions on the matter.  Smile

I was bitten while moving stuff around in my garage. (I live in Garden Grove CA and it was early summer.) The bite was just below my right shoulder and was never felt to the best of my memory. There were two pinhole marks side by side so we all assumed spider, and said marks were surrounded by a dime-sized localized red rash when the bite was discovered. (We didn't find the bite until after my symptoms started up.)

The first symptom kicked in in about 2 hours and consisted of sharp, shooting pains in my joints on the affected arm upon movement. This was followed by a pins and needles feeling in my hand on that side and a slight weakness of the entire limb, i.e. my hand would tremble if I gripped anything. The limb felt heavy and 'tired' over all.  

That was shortly followed (about 3 hours after the bite was thought to have occured) by nausea/vomiting, a generally achy all-over feeling, slight fever and headache, sleepiness. I thought I had suddenly come down with the flu. While preparing for a tepid shower to cool myself down my husband spotted the bite on my arm. It was swollen but not severely at all, and the site stung slightly when touched.

Went to urgentcare on concerned husband's request and by the time we arrived the red splotch around the bite had turned into a small bullseye. The staff of course couldn't ID a species. I was treated with IV fluids, antihistamines, medication for the muscle spasms and pain relief. Went home, passed out asleep feeling a touch better.

Woke up around 4 am with a fever approaching 104, chills and shaking, bad tension-like headache, more nausea, rapid heartbeat and a strange feeling akin to being in nonstop flight or fight mode; smallest noise or touch made me startle. The bite's bullseye had enlarged and the center of said bullseye was pale, sort of graying out. Swelling more pronounced.

Went to ER at 6 am. More IV fluids with IV antibiotics, pain control, anti-nausea meds etc. It took morphine to stop the awful headache! ER doc measured the fang marks but said the swelling makes any measurement iffy. I was kept for observation until 4 pm. The swelling was down, wasn't puking anymore, joint pain still present but much better. Sent home with antibiotics and more pain meds. The bullseye was far bigger but not as red or pronounced anymore.

My symptoms never worsened but the next day I had a hard, painful swelling under the bite that was hot to the touch. Had a slight odor. So back to doctor we went where they drained and flushed a abscess about the size of a large bean. Doc debrided some dead tissue, not a lot. I had to go in daily for some basic wound care for about 10 days after that but the bite healed over without further issues and my symptoms fully resolved within 10 days. After the 4th day my main symptoms were fatigue, itching at the site and an occasional low-grade headache that came and went. My sleep was unusually restless for a few more days, or so my husband said.

I have a small scar now but nothing more. So based on that what's your thoughts on a sp ID? The ER doctor thought it was one of the Latrodectus group or possibly L. deserta but admitted he was no pro on the matter without a specimen to look at. We do have the occasional Latro around our home but I've never seen any sp of recluse, certainly very rare in my area. It's not certain that the bite happened in the garage, either. I did a lot of gardening in the morning the same day and we have P. viridans out there, Lycosidae (rare though) etc. Never seen a tick on the property. It's always possible something fairly harmless nipped me and I just had a gnarly allergic reaction so it's all pretty vague. I clearly had an infection on top of the things and the ER doc said he wasn't entirely sure what symptoms were due to infection and which were due to venom.

Anyhow it's long since healed and over, but oh man was I a sick pup for a few days there!

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