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Keith Pierce from Montana was already showing incredible promise as a football player and wrestler. Given Keith’s active lifestyle, I’m sure his parents paid much attention to his health and safety. So you can imagine how concerned they must’ve been when – just a month after the boy’s 10th birthday – a black mark appeared on his leg, accompanied by swelling.

Keith’s parents took him to the hospital, where doctors became very concerned that the mark on his leg was cancer. This was quickly ruled out, however, at which point Keith was sent home. Little did doctors know that Keith had actually been bitten by a brown recluse spider during a football game.

As the spider venom spread through Keith’s body over the next few days, the pain and swelling became intense. His parents rushed him back to the hospital where, two days later, he underwent emergency surgery. He never woke up. He didn’t receive treatment quick enough. 

“Keith passed away less than 24 hours later – one month and four days after his 10th birthday,” said the boy’s heartbroken mother Mandy.

Dangers of the Brown Recluse Spider

The brown recluse spider is one of just two deadly venomous spiders in North America – the other being the black widow. The brown recluse lives in the central and southern United States. It is possible for individual spiders to be transported to other regions but it’s very unlikely, according to the University of California, Riverside Spider Research department.

They are usually between 6 and 20 millimeters long. A brown recluse can be distinguished from other spiders by the distinctive mark found below its head.

s their name might suggest, brown recluse spiders often hang out alone in dark and secluded places like under porches and in closets. Due to their secluded nature, it’s very easy to agitate a brown recluse spider – they really don’t like being found and bothered.

Because of their size and sensitivity, children like Keith are at the highest risk of suffering a serious brown recluse bite. Back in 2014, a boy by the name of Branson Riley Carlisle was rushed to the hospital after being bitten by a brown recluse hiding in his pajama top.

His mother shared these pictures of the bite’s progression.

Branson went into cardiac arrest because of the venom. After 17 attempts at resuscitation, he was pronounced dead.

Parents, if you live in a brown recluse-prone area and your child complains of a sting, look out for the following symptoms:

  • Itching
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Discomfort

Should you notice these in conjunction with a mark, wash the bite area thoroughly with soap and water. Then, create a cold compress and place it on the bite area for 10 minutes. Next, remove the washcloth for 10 minutes and repeat the whole process before going to the emergency room.

Have a look at this video to learn more about how to treat, and prevent, a brown recluse spider bite.