Spider bite nearly claims man's hand

A brown recluse spider bite almost claims a man's entire hand. LeBleu Settlement resident Jasper Hay was working on steps for his barn when he said, "I thought I'd smashed my finger between the blocks." His finger swelled and became very painful throughout the day. He said in the middle of the night he woke up to use the bathroom and then passed out in pain. Hay's wife rushed him to the emergency room. The hard part was diagnosing the bite. Dr. Gerald Mouton, M.D. at the Lake Charles Memorial Hospital Wound Care Clinic, said the bite could be confused with, "cellulitis, a skin infection, an early case of shingles or other insect bites."

The flesh-eating venom bore straight through his finger and tunneled into his hand. Hay's first suggestion to doctors was "cut the finger off." His only hope though was to somehow contain the venom before it did any more damage.

Dr. Mouton recommended the hyperbaric chamber, a pressurized tube-like chamber that pumps oxygen into cells to help them heal faster.

"It can save marginal tissue and contain the infection to an area giving the body a chance to heal itself," said Dr. Mouton.

His hand healed after about 40 sessions in the chamber.

"I still got a little hump here, but I ain't a pretty person. I don't have to have a pretty hand," joked Hay.

He now wears gloves that go well past his elbow to avoid another bite when working outside.

Dr. Mouton said brown recluses are a common sight in the Southern United States. They pack a venomous bite, but not all people will have a severe reaction to it, said Dr. Mouton. He suggests seeking medical attention if the bite develops into an open sore.

Copyright 2011 KPLC. All rights reserved.