DATE: December 30,
INCIDENT TYPE: Insect
TYPE OF WORK ACTIVITY:
Preparing for Work, Putting on Gloves
THE ACCIDENT: On the
morning of December 5th, 2003, a Caltrans maintenance employee working
in Kern County was bit or stung on his left index finger by a spider
or insect as he placed his work gloves on. On the third day following
the bite/sting, the employee felt extreme pain and noticed considerable
swelling on his left hand. The employee was taken to the hospital for
medical treatment. Antibiotic injections and medication were administered.
Further treatment included intravenous antibiotics and surgery to remove
dead tissue from the left index finger and hand and several stitches.
The employee lost several days of work due to the pain and treatment
that was required and continues to recover while on modified duty.
CONCLUSIONS: The bite/sting
may have been caused by a Brown Recluse spider. These spiders are golden
brown in color and can be identified by the characteristic dark brown
to black fiddle-shaped pattern on the head region. These spiders commonly
live in basements and garages of houses and can be found hiding between
boards, boxes, and old towels and clothes in dark, undisturbed areas.
These spiders are not aggressive but they will bite when accidentally
trapped, disturbed or threatened. The Brown Recluse can deliver a painless
bite or a bite that merely itches and burns at first. Later the surrounding
tissue turns red, or black and blue, and begins to disintegrate from
the venom, which is designed to digest the victim's flesh. A crusted
wound forms and, after the crust falls off, continues to deepen, forming
a crater that may take months to heal. Brown Recluse bites are often
not diagnosed until considerable tissue damage has taken place, so it's
important to inform the doctor if you suspect a bite.
is the best treatment of all for spider bites. Here are a few things
that can help minimize getting bitten:
- Always shake your clothes
before putting them on. This gives the spider a chance to get away
from you. They like to hide under clothing or in shoes. Just make
a habit of shaking your clothes or turning your shoes over and tapping
them a time or two insuring that they are clear of spiders or bugs.
- Use a broom to keep the
spider webs swept away. This discourages the spiders by reducing their
food collection ability. Eliminate or reduce bright outdoor lighting
that attracts insects (spiders' food supply).
- Trim weeds and grass
from around buildings and remove debris to discourage insects and
spiders from living close by.
- Seal or caulk outside
openings that may allow spiders to enter buildings.
If you suspect a spider
bite seek medical attention and:
- Apply ice to decrease
pain and swelling,
- Elevate area if possible
above the level of your heart,
- Wash the area thoroughly
with cool water and mild soap, and/or
- Avoid any strenuous activity
because this can spread the spider's venom in your skin.