Like most kids, little Kailyn was always picking up bruises. But when one on her leg wouldn’t seem to go away, her mom and dad rushed her to the emergency room. Consequently, they now have a grave warning for other parents.
Josh and Kristine Donovan live with their young family in Mendon, Massachusetts. Together, the couple has three daughters. Among them is five-year-old Kailyn, who is a ball of energy at most times.
Given her boisterous nature, it is not unusual for Kailyn to pick up various nicks and marks on her skin. So when Kristine found a bruise on the back of her daughter’s leg, she didn’t think too much of it. However, things weren’t as they seemed.
It all began one evening in June 2017. Little Kailyn complained to her mother that her jeans were hurting her. So the concerned mom checked to see if the jeans were too tight. However, they seemed to fit perfectly. But then Kristine spotted the bruise.
Although the purple mark looked nasty, Kristine decided to simply keep an eye on the bruise. However, as the days progressed, it mutated into a large red line across Kailyn’s leg. Naturally, her mom grew more concerned.
So Kristine took the five-year-old to see a doctor. However, the physician initially diagnosed the mark as cellulitis and said it was nothing to worry about. He prescribed antibiotics to clear up the common skin infection and sent little Kailyn on her way.
However, the medication did nothing to clear up the bruise. In fact, it just got worse, this time transforming from purple to black. Once again, Kailyn’s parents decided to seek medical advice and took her to the emergency room.
It was there that Kristine and Josh first learnt the mark on Kailyn’s leg was in fact caused by a spider bite. But at that point medical professionals were unable to determine what kind of spider had been responsible. Frankly, the news shocked the youngster’s parents.
“We never thought it was a bite or anything at the beginning,” Kristine told Today in June 2017. “There was no bite mark.” Nevertheless, they were relieved when doctors told them Kailyn could be treated with an intravenous antibiotic drip.
A few days later, Kailyn was almost back to her normal self. Her fever had disappeared and she was well enough to go to her pre-school graduation. However, deep down, Kristine felt like all was not well.
“I had a feeling that the bite didn’t look right,” she explained. “It started to get really nasty.” So she took her daughter to the UMass Memorial Medical Center, which is located in Worcester, MA. There, doctors placed her on a different antibiotic and began looking into the source of the bite.
It was then that Kailyn’s parents got some worrying news. The bite was in fact from a dangerous black widow spider. The purple coloring they thought was a bruise was in fact evidence of the insect’s venom killing off cells.
It’s safe to say that the revelation surprised Kristine and Josh. “We never in a million years thought it would be a black widow spider,” Kristine said. “I didn’t think they were around here. I was pretty shocked.”
Worldwide, around 2,200 people suffer black widow bites each year. The creatures’ venom can trigger severe muscular pain, spasms and abdominal cramps. However, contrary to popular belief, black widow bites are rarely deadly.
Furthermore, black widows aren’t very aggressive and will usually only bite humans when threatened. Luckily, for those who do enough to get bitten, the recovery time is around 24 hours if receiving medical attention. So it looked like Kailyn was going to be fine.
According to Kailyn’s physician, Doctor William Durbin, her infection was “very superficial.” And, aside from the unpleasant bite mark, she was otherwise completely healthy. He added that the dead cells would clear up in a week, ending Kailyn’s ordeal.
Although black widows are present across the United States, they are not particularly common in Massachusetts. According to Durbin, he treats two or three people with black widow bites per year. So little Kailyn had been extremely unlucky.
Her parents now believe the spider must have bitten Kailyn in their backyard. They think they might have disturbed the insect when clearing wood to make a children’s play area. And now they want other parents to be more vigilant.
According to Durbin, the purple marking Kailyn experienced was a tell-tale sign of a black widow bite, which other parents could look out for. “That’s a very unusual and distinct reaction,” he explained. Meanwhile, Kaitlyn urged parents to push for answers if their child was ill.
“We just want parents to trust your instincts,” she said. “If you feel something doesn’t look right, just keep going to the doctor to find out what it is.” And as for Kailyn, she’s now doing fine. “She’s back to her old self,” the proud mom added. “She wants to go out and play.”