Brown Recluse Spider Bites Woman Up North [DISTURBING PHOTO]

Her arm swelled up with a clear cyst the size of an egg.

June 21, 2018 - 1:57 pm

(WWJ) — She was relaxing up north with her husband last Saturday, checking out Sleeping Bear Dunes like thousands of other Michiganders, when something shocking happened to Tina Bradish of Muskegon.

After moving a wood pile, Bradish noticed what looked like two small red puncture marks on her arm. It itched. And then it itched more, and it burned.

The next morning, the two dots had turned black, and her arm was swelling. 

"I didn't notice it until the next day, I ended up going into the emergency room," she told WWJ's Sandra McNeill.

Bradish was given antibiotics.

The swelling turned into a blister the size of a golf ball, so she returned to the emergency room. The second time, staff told her she had been bitten by a brown recluse spider.

They gave her more antibiotics. That didn't stop the mark from swelling all the way from her wrist to her elbow. IV antibiotics made the redness subside, but the blister continued to grow.

Eventually, it stopped, and luckily, she had started antibiotics early enough that possible side effects like gangrene stayed away. Her only other syptom was a slight headache -- well, that and the scar on her arm that she'll carry for life.

Now marked, she has a new perspective on spiders and the damage they can do. "It made me more aware as far as we're constantly looking, we're checking the bedding before we go to bed, our coats," Bradish said.

Bradish, though, remains sanguine and calm about the whole experience. She says now she had never been particularly afraid of spiders.

"But now every little spider, I'm killing it," she said.

It's unknown how a brown recluse ended up in northern Michigan -- It must have hitchhiked its way on someone's clothes or in a camper or car.

According to livescience.com, "The brown recluse spider is well-known for its appearance and poisonous bite. It is the most common and widespread of the brown spiders, but it is found only in the south and central United States. Brown recluse spiders live in a region comprising Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama and parts of Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska.

According to the entomology department at the University of California, Riverside, if you live outside those areas, "it is highly unlikely that you have a recluse spider. It is possible but incredibly unlikely."