Summer is officially upon us and that means plenty of time spent in the great outdoors, like on a trail in Nescopeck. A viral Facebook post from Luzerne County has Pennsylvanians worried sick about getting bitten outdoors.
A family friend of Amber Kulp put out a post on Facebook to warn local communities about a possible brown recluse infestation in the area, one of the three spider bites that requires serious medical attention in North America.
Kulp was surprised to see the post get more than 10,000 shares on social media but notes how serious the bite became.
“At first it didn’t have any pain but then as it went on, it started to hurt and I couldn’t put pressure on it, touch it or anything like that,” Kulp of Nescopeck said.
Kulp and the numerous sets of doctors who contributed to her care still haven’t been able to determine exactly what caused the viral bite.
“The first doctor thought it was a tick. Our family doctor thought it was a spider bite. There was another doctor down at the first hospital we went to that thought it was a tick bite and the second hospital I went to, they thought it was a spider. We’re not exactly sure what it was because I didn’t see what bit me. Everybody has their opinion but we all worked together to get it take care of so I guess that’s all that matters,” Kulp said.
She says she has an idea when and where it happened.
“We actually got wood from a local lumber yard and we had it in the truck bed doing fencing and landscape timbers in our garden. I was up in the back of the truck and unloading, staining and cutting with the wood all day. It looked like a mosquito bite when it started.
Mark Scarpitti is the assistant park manager of the Hickory Run State Parks complex. He says much like some of the bacteria that affects the forest, invasive pests like spiders and ticks can cause chaos.
“We warn people not to transport firewood from outside the area. Spotted lantern flies are another big one in the news. These are all issues that affect not just parks, but any landowners and all residents of PA,” Scarpitti said.
The bite from plenty of things that live in everything from firewood to the woods themselves can leave a nasty reminder to leave the house prepared. Scarpitti says that preparation can be the difference between having fun outside and the horror that may show up on your body days later.
“The best thing you can do is be vigilant and wear repellent. There are ones that are more effective than others and that’s up to the individuals to decide what their needs are. Wear repellent and everyone knows, check yourself for ticks after you come inside. You’re going to be in a very good position to avoid any of these concerns,” Scarpitti said.
After a hellacious experience that took four days to start healing, is estimated to take three months to completely heal and may still leave some residual scarring and side effects, Kulp says pesky bites outside aren’t to be trifled with.
“My advice would be if you get bit by something and it’s not your normal bite or it starts to swell a little bit more, definitely go to either your doctor or wherever you get care from just to make sure you have it. You never know how bad it’s going to be. With me, I thought it was a mosquito bite and once I saw more signs of it, I went right to the doctor. I guess if it’s abnormal for what you normally have, go get medical attention somewhere,” Kulp said.
Ingredients to look for in stronger repellents include promitherine and even eucalyptus. There are plenty of social media posts that may scare you away from coming outdoors this summer, but there are plenty of websites to make sure you are more than well-informed about what you might run into out here.