Black widow spider (Latrodectus spp) envenomation represents the most medically significant spider envenomation in the United States, prompting more than 2500 calls to poison centers annually. The female spider, which is responsible for symptomatic envenomations, is classically described as a shiny black spider with a red hourglass-shaped marking on the ventral abdomen. Clinical features of envenomation include painful muscle cramping, abdominal pain, and autonomic disturbances, such as tachycardia, hypertension, and diaphoresis. “Latrodectus facies” or “facies latrodectismica” is an additional distinctive but rarely described clinical finding characterized by periorbital edema, lacrimation, and blepharospasm.
A 6-year-old female developed the typical clinical features of Latrodectus envenomation after being found in bed with a Western black widow spider (Latrodectus hesperus) with no ventral marking. She initially improved with opioid analgesia, but 6 h later her symptoms worsened again, and concurrent with this worsening she developed Latrodectus facies. She received additional opioid analgesia and all her symptoms resolved within 24 h. Her mother provided informed and written consent for the acquisition and publication of the facial photographs presented.
Why Should an Emergency Physician Be Aware of This?
A high degree of clinical suspicion is necessary to correctly diagnose Latrodectus envenomation, especially when the spider escapes unnoticed or in young children in whom the bite is not witnessed. To our knowledge, Latrodectus facies has not been reported previously in a young child, and recognition of this finding will aid clinicians in limiting unnecessary interventions and administering appropriate therapy.
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Published online: September 03, 2019
Accepted: June 15, 2019
Received in revised form: June 4, 2019
Received: April 7, 2019
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