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Possible brown recluse bite from Horse Show stabling!!

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  • Possible brown recluse bite from Horse Show stabling!!

    My friends horse got brown recluse spider bite in a barn at the Saratoga Race Track (St Clements)!!!!!!! The mare's leg is gruesomely swollen with flesh coming off..first symptoms were a HUGE groin area swelling!! Not sure about her prognosis...up to God..Show goers BEWARE! Check your stalls and maybe spray them before putting your horse in there!!!
    The vet initial dx was a groin area injury from casting herself BUT the bedding was not disturbed and no scuff marks on the walls or floors of the stall....Treated the horse for a muscle injury and took her home where her leg swelled up like the worst lymphangitis EVER, then the skin and flesh sloughing started. Just a word to all of us using these stalls...What a mess this horse is....The vets are scratching their heads since the brown recluse is not a typical spider to see in the north east but this was a quarantine barn so who knows if the little devil rode up in a van or blankets or tack....who knows? Just use due caution when using HS stabling!
    The thing about smart people, is they look like crazy people, to dumb people.

  • #2
    That's too bad and poor horse! Sadly, I don't think there is a lot of prevention. The stall could have been sprayed, but most spiders don't sit in the middle of the stall and say "spray me!" It also sounds like the dx is just a shot in the dark. It the skin coming off in just one small area and leaving a necrotic bite area? When my horse had an infection that caused his leg to swell larger than the skin could handle it oozed fluid and the skin and hair came off raw for about 1/4th of the leg. I hope they can figure out what is wrong with this horse (and the owner insists on more diagnosis since a brown recluse bit is so unlikely, given the geographical location and the symptoms) and the horse recovers soon!


    • #3
      there are plenty of brown recluse spiders in the NE, even though it's not "common" or "typical" of that spider. my brother was bitten on the foot by one. it happens. i hope the best for your horse! jingles your way. i don't know much of anything about treatment of it in horses, though.

      unfortunately i dont know if theres much you can do to prevent it, either. just hope it doesnt happen to anyone else :/ i dont know if spraying will help but its worth a shot (just make sure it ont have any neg affect on the horses!)

      Blitz <3 & Leap of Faith <3


      • #4
        Jingles for your friend's horse. I lost a filly to (probably) the same thing last fall.

        Tell her to treat it as aggresively as possible.


        • #5
          Ugh, that is upsetting... I hope the horse recovers and is OK.

          I go through more Silver Clene at horseshows than any reasonable person, but of course that would do nothing to protect from a spider bite. Kind of makes you want to bubble wrap those ponies, doesn't it?
          We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


          • #6
            I'm so sorry

            I got bitten by one at a friends farm 5 years ago, still have a huge 'dent' in my leg from the bite.

            Hopefully you guys caught it early enough


            • #7
              Yipes! any chance of seeing pics of the leg? I've never seen the results of a spider bite and would be interested to see the effects. bet it's gross...

              Jingles for pony. I hope it heals up with no big scars or muscle atrophy!!! Yuck-ooo

              Hey Lucassb - what's Silver Clene?
              ...don't sh** where you eat...


              • #8
                Poor horse. Hope she heals up soon.

                Some interesting information (including advice against indiscriminate spraying) found here: http://brownreclusespider.com/faq.htm


                • Original Poster

                  I am told that the vet group treating the horse, has multiple photos of the leg since they found it such a rare occurrence for them and they are cataloging the treatment protocol. So far, so good but it will be a long long road for this horse...I will pass on you good thoughts and wishes to her owner.
                  The thing about smart people, is they look like crazy people, to dumb people.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by winfieldfarm View Post

                    Hey Lucassb - what's Silver Clene?
                    It's a disinfectant - you can find more about it here: http://farmvet.com/pc-146-189-silver-clene-24.aspx
                    We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


                    • #11
                      I was in that stabling week 2... I guess we got lucky. Hope she heals up soon!
                      Proudly blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse!


                      • #12
                        That's terrible. I hope all goes well with her treatment and recovery.

                        Brown recluses, however, are fairly limited in their range and their bites are way overdiagnosed. When I was bit by a black widow (verified as we had the spider for identification and black widows are very distinctive) while pregnant I went to the hospital and was told by the emergency room physician that they very rarely see black widow bites but do see lots from brown recluses. This seems unlikely as their range does not extend here to Maryland and would most likely only happen in those rare instances where the spider hitched a ride, for example in a packing box, which of course is what the OP stated as the likely scenario in this case.

                        Here's some more information on brown recluses from an entomologist at the University of Kentucky: http://www.ca.uky.edu/entomology/entfacts/ef631.asp


                        • #13
                          BW's are scary....

                          I saw a black widow spider here in NoVa under a water tank. I flipped it over for scrubbing and there she was. Red hourglass and all. I snapped a picture on my phone....proof I saw one....then smashed it. Wasn't chancing one of the horses getting bit by that thing

                          Jingles to your friends mare. Hope she gets better soon


                          • #14
                            Please go to this site :


                            I was bitten by a brown recluse myself, the typical Hospital protocol is Antibiotics and steroids, they DO NOT WORK. they do nothing to draw the venom out, cells continue to break down. YOU MUST draw the venom. Until she can get the poultice in the kit described above I would recommend slicing a RAW potato about 1/8 inch thick and placing it directly over the bite area. wrap it with vet wrap and replace it every 6 hours . I realize I may get flamed for this but I used this myself after the bite starting turning gangrene. I had two nurses and a doctor who had treated brown recluse spider bites that took six months to heal and this after surgeries to remove the gangrene, One patient had to have 12 inches by 8"s of skin removed from her stomach ,, the other part of their ankle was removed all the while the hospital kept treating with steroids and antibiotics. Go ahead and continue steroids and antibiotics , just use the potato and then the poultice when you get it. I usually don't recommend any treatments for lameness or conditions on this board but my personal experience with the uselessness of the medical community in treating my own bite necessitated this recomendation. BTW when I showed my bite to my friends 1 day later, they couldn't believe it, nor did they believe my treatment, they insisted it was the Steroids they provided , funny thing was I never did fill that prescription for the Pred. It went from beginning to turn gangrene, to
                            50 % healed in 24 hours.


                            • Original Poster

                              Yeah, I have many black widows in FL too. I was surprised at how small they are and the hour glass is on their abdomen and not their backs like I thought! You kind of expect nasty spiders in sub tropical areas but in upstate NY in May? What self respecting spider wouldn't FREEZE to death up here??

                              Not sure about the bite site since this was the second week of St Clements, what two weeks ago? I will tell the owner about your protocol, at this point anything helpful is better than sitting and waiting...
                              The thing about smart people, is they look like crazy people, to dumb people.


                              • #16
                                This same thing happened to a friends horse at a show earlier this year. They thought casting as well but no signs to back that up. He broke out in bad hives up and down the leg as well. They put him on some strong antibiotics etc. I should send her the link to this thread and have her post up.

                                Jingles to your boy!
                                Cloverfox Stables


                                • #17
                                  The "quararantine" barn at Saratoga, is actually the holding barn where TB's are stabled on race day. My guess is that none have been occupied since the end of racing last September. However, many race horses have returned to Saratoga (Belmont favorites Ice Box and Fly Down have been training there for a couple of weeks) and could have brought brown recluse spiders up for their more typical habitats down south. Race horses travel with alot of gear and many of them are coming from points all up the eastern seaboard.
                                  The racers are mostly stabled across the street, near the training track until after the Classic show. It could also be that a show barn shipping north brought a nest up hidden in gear that may have been stored for a while in a rig.
                                  Always inspect any stall you are putting your horse into!!!

                                  Betsy, I hope your friend's horse is OK. Is it anyone I know?

                                  I have let several trainers with horses up there know to be aware. I would hate to see this happen to anyone else.
                                  With the Saratoga Classic coming up, the warning is timely.
                                  F O.B
                                  Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
                                  Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique