Few things stick in my craw more than perpetuating bad information, particularly when it comes from a respected community of medical professionals and major media outlets. This weekend, the story broke of Ron Reese, a Tampa-area man who died of a necrotic wound on the back of his neck. Reese’s doctor diagnosed him with a bite from a brown recluse spider, and the media reported as much: “Man Dies From Brown Recluse Bite.”
My sympathies go to Mr. Reese and his family, of course, but the reason I’m posting is because Ron Reese was almost certainly NOT killed by a brown recluse spider. How can I say this? Because there are no brown recluse spiders in the Tampa area.
Rick Vetter is an entomologist at the University of California Riverside who has dedicated himself to fighting the myth of the brown recluse spider bite. See, each year multiple thousands of brown recluse spider bites are reported by medical authorities across the United States–but the vast majority of these diagnoses are almost certainly wrong, because they happen in places brown recluse spiders don’t exist. Continue Reading