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Brown Recluse Spider Bites on the Rise

All children under 12 with brown recluse spider bite should have hemoglobin urine test

WEDNESDAY, July 30, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Although the bite of a brown recluse spider is poisonous, the wounds usually heal well if left alone. However, it's still important to recognize the warning signs of an adverse reaction, warns Donna Seger, M.D., medical director of the Tennessee Poison Center, particularly since these potentially dangerous bites are on the rise.

"As physicians, it is hard for us to do nothing. The cutaneous lesion has classic characteristics, but if physicians are not familiar with this bite, the tendency is to debride and cut out the lesion," she explained in a Vanderbilt University Medical Center news release. "This actually slows the healing process, and can result in disfigurement that would not occur if the lesion were left alone."

Ointments, antibiotics, and the anti-infective medication dapsone should not be applied to a brown recluse spider bite wound, Seger added. She also recommended using ice for pain management rather than strong painkillers. In some cases, brown recluse spider bites can cause symptoms throughout the body. Warning signs of this syndrome include fever, rash, and muscle pain. These symptoms may occur with or without the breaking down of red blood cells, which can be life-threatening, particularly for children.

"Our recommendations are that all children under 12 with a brown recluse spider bite should have a urine test for the presence of hemoglobin in blood," Seger said.

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