VA woman hospitalized for the bite of a brown recluse spider after kayaking down the Staunton River


CAMPBELL COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) – A Campbell County woman was hospitalized for almost a week after a 10-hour kayak trip along the Staunton River resulted in a severe spider bite.

Sherri Maddox says she flew to Brookneal from Long Island near Gladys. A day later, she noticed a suspicious bite on her lip.

At first the doctors struggled to treat it. Well, says Maddox, she’s just glad she lived to warn others about what was going on out there.

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“I cried, it was horrible, I thought I was going to die, you know, it was a lot of pain,” Maddox said.

She noticed that she had bitten something and discovered two days later that it was a brown recluse.

First, Maddox went to the Gretna Emergency Center and was given antibiotics. At this point, she wasn’t too concerned about the bite. It got worse, however, and so did her fear of how dangerous it could be.

“I’m nearly 50 years old and have been floating in the Staunton River since I was six,” said Maddox. “I just prayed that I wouldn’t die because I heard horror stories and you looked for all of these things on the internet.”

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Doctors told Maddox it was a bite from a brown recluse spider. Lynchburg General Hospital was full at the time, so she was taken to a Bedford hospital. She says she is grateful to the doctors and nurses there who helped her.

(Photo: Courtesy Associated Press).

“I hallucinated a lot thinking it was because of the pain relievers they gave me, but I’ve heard from various people that the spider venom does just that,” Maddox said.

Her hallucinations came and went during the first five days of her hospital stay.

“I just thought I was at my mother’s or sister’s house and then I would get out and look in the hospital room and find that I was in the hospital,” Maddox explained.

Eventually the swelling subsided and although she’s still taking antibiotics she will be fine.

Lynchburg-based entomologist David Moore says this type of spider can usually be found in eastern Tennessee, but he wouldn’t be surprised if they got elsewhere.

“Typically, you can find brown recluses near rocks, piles of hoses, supply boxes, piles, under bark and other areas,” said Moore. “In a house they like to be in undisturbed areas, like in boxes, under some papers.”

(Photo: Courtesy Associated Press).

According to Moore, the legs of the spiders can be a few inches long and can be encountered around Christmas time when decorations are unpacked from boxes that have been in the basement or in the attic for some time.

According to Moore, if you believe you have been bitten by an unknown insect, it is best to capture it dead or alive and take it to a nearby hospital as it will be easier for doctors to treat a bite if they can identify it The insect.

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