Black widow spider bite sends 5-year-old girl to the emergency room

A Massachusetts family is issuing a warning to parents about the dangers of black widow spiders after having to rush their five-year-old daughter to the emergency room.

Mother Kristine Donovan told WCVB Sunday that she noticed a purple bruise-like spot on the back of her little girl's knee about a week ago.

Donovan, who said the spot looked like an innocent bug bite, sent her daughter, Kailyn, to school. But once school officials called to tell Donovan that her daughter had developed a fever, she immediately took Kailyn to the hospital.

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A Chilean scientist shows a black-widow spider at his laboratory in Temuco, 700 Km south of Santiago, June 9, 2003. Chilean researchers say they aim to develop a new pill to combat impotence that would have the added bonus of being a male contraceptive, based on experiments with the venom of black-widow spiders. REUTERS/Carlos Barria CB
A female black widow spider carries her egg sack near the city of Pavlodar, Kazakhstan, August 15, 2001. A plague of lethal black widow spiders is terrorising this northern Kazakh city, killing an 81-year old woman last week. Bites to humans usually occur when the black widow defends her web or protects her egg sack.
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Deadly female black widow spider, Latrodectus mactans, with red hourglass shape underneath her abdomen.
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"They knew it was a spider bite," Donovan said. "They didn't know what spider bite, so they gave her some antibiotics."

The first doctor Kailyn saw told Donovan that her daughter had developed a cellulitis, a common bacterial skin infection, and prescribed her antibiotics as such. But Kailyn's bruise didn't respond to the medication and started to turn black and purple.

So, Donovan took her daughter to UMass Memorial Medical Center, where Kailyn was forced to stay overnight on Friday.

The next morning, Donovan said an infectious disease doctor confirmed Kailyn was suffering from the bite of a black widow spider.

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"I didn't know what to say," Josh Donovan, Kailyn's father, told the station. "It's not something you would expect, especially in Massachusetts. I've never seen it."

The black mark on Kailyn's leg had resulted from the venom of the poisonous spider, which could have been fatal if the family had waited any longer.

"If you think it's something, just keep looking for an answer," Kristine Donovan warns parents. "I had a feeling it was pretty bad, and I just kept pushing to have it checked out."

Black widows are most abundant in the southern part of the United States, where the environment is more suitable for their life cycle and activities. The black widow spider (Latrodectus mactans) can be primarily found in areas that are dark and dry.

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