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After suspected bite by brown recluse, 5-year-old camper rushed to hospital

A routine family camping trip this summer soon turned into a nightmare for young Gabe Cash of South Boston.

According to his grandmother, Karen Hudson, the family often goes up to Elkhorn Lake in Java where they have a camper and spend time during the summer. 

“This weekend was no different,” said Hudson.

However, when 5-year-old Gabe came out of the bathroom, his grandmother knew something wasn’t right. With tears rolling down his face Gabe wouldn’t stop saying, “something bit me.”

Upon investigating her grandson’s rear, she found what seemed to be a sting or bite of some kind. She proceeded to treat it with what was on hand in the camper. However, when the bite site seemed to get progressively worse, she contacted poison control.

After contacting poison control it was determined Gabe may have been bitten by a brown recluse spider. By morning the family made the decision to rush him to the hospital.

“I had never seen anything like that,” said Hudson.

“It started like a sting, then every hour it got worse. It looked like a burn, then a bruise, and it just kept getting worse,” she added.

First thing Saturday, Gabe’s family rushed him to Halifax Regional Hospital emergency room, but when they saw how busy the ER was, they decided to go to South Boston Pediatrics where Gabe was treated with antibiotics for a brown recluse spider bite. 

However, without the spider itself, there was no proof it was a brown recluse, and doctors could only go by the images and the bite itself.

“It looked like things just kept getting worse, so we took him to Lynchburg hospital emergency room,” said Hudson.

Gabe’s mother, Tabitha, said the doctors at the emergency room in Lynchburg informed the family there was no definite way to know whether or not he had been bitten by a brown recluse because there is no blood test for it.

All they could go on were the images of the bite. But it was their belief that a brown recluse spider was indeed what bit him, said Tabitha.

The doctors at Lynchburg gave him more high-powered antibiotics and sent him home, she added.

“He doesn’t want to play, he just wants to lay around,” said Tabitha.

The incident has drained the youngster and has made him extremely jittery at the sight of other spiders or bugs.

“He’s terrified now,” she added.

Doctors warned family it may take weeks before young Gabe is fully recovered from the spider bite.

Hudson said she wants other families to be aware of the dangers of brown recluse spiders and what their bites can cause.

“If you believe you have been bitten, seek medical attention as soon as possible,” she added.

Gabe is the son of Tabatha and Joey Cash. He has a sister, Josie.