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Spider Bite Allows Man To Walk Again 221

Posted by samzenpus
from the web-slinger dept.
Manastorm writes "A man who was wheelchair bound due to a motorcycle accident twenty years ago gained the ability to walk again after being bitten by a recluse spider. 'I can't wait to start dancing,' he said as he looks forward to a full recovery after experiencing what some call a 'true miracle.'" I think we all know how this story is going to end. I hope The Sinister Six have been practicing.

*

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Spider Bite Allows Man To Walk Again

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  • by R2.0 (532027) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @03:05PM (#27231335)

    No genetic engineering?

    What a let down...

    • by phantomfive (622387) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @03:21PM (#27231615) Journal
      You never know. They didn't catch the spider, and it happened in Manteca, California, which is far outside the normal range of the brown recluse spider. However, it is in unusually close proximity to Sutter Buttes, an extinct volcano which would be an ideal place to set up a secret lab for.........experiments. Not that I'm suggesting anything.
      • by kbob88 (951258) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @03:34PM (#27231907)

        Repeat after me: there is no secret lab under Sutter Buttes. Certainly not one exactly 322' under Brockman Canyon off Pass Road with henchmen wearing shiny silver suits where several tanks of Sphyrna have recently been delivered. Umm, I mean, these are not the buttes you are looking for...

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Foodie (980694)
          Yep. It's on the next intersection instead.
        • ...where several tanks of Sphyrna have recently been delivered. Umm...

          Yeah. I delivered my load of "Sphyrna" there. There are (quite nice) henchgirls too. O:-)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Creepy (93888)

        Location doesn't mean much - a friend of mine's mom got bitten by a likely brown recluse spider in central Minnesota (about 400 miles north of their habitat) and they never caught that spider, either, but the venom was necrotic which is a fairly good identifier. It is suspected that the spider hitchhiked a ride with fruit.

        Anyhow, it is very unlikely that this was related due to the nature of that venom - sounds like he went to the hospital and they likely found nerve regrowth or something like that. Nerve

        • by Shakrai (717556)

          but nerve regrowth is rare in the spine because spinal fluids prohibit it.

          Guess our intelligent designer needs to go back to the drawing board if (s)he built in a design flaw like that ;)

          • by Lorens (597774) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @06:43PM (#27234877) Journal

            but nerve regrowth is rare in the spine because spinal fluids prohibit it.

            Guess our intelligent designer needs to go back to the drawing board if (s)he built in a bug like that ;)

            There, corrected that for you. Spiders kill bugs.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Capsaicin (412918)

            Guess our intelligent designer needs to go back to the drawing board if (s)he built in a design flaw like that ;)

            What flaw? You make the mistake of thinking our designer is favourably disposed towards us. Remember this is the designer who brought us Ebola inter alia and chose to make humans specifically susceptible to its effects. I think the evidence suggests that, if She isn't outright indifferent to human suffering, She actually enjoys witnessing it.

      • by hullabalucination (886901) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @06:22PM (#27234599) Journal

        You know, all you had to do was check the Yellow Pages for the Sutter Buttes/Tarantula Junction exchange, and there right under the "World Domination, Evil Genetic Engineering Consultants" heading was this listing:

        "Tarantek: Your one-stop source for mutants, clones, evil world domination schemes, improbability manipulation and 'unapproved' research. Arachnids our specialty. We're also California's largest wholesaler of Chia Pets. We take MasterCard, Discover Card and VISA."

        * * * * *

        "If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?"
        —Abraham Lincoln

    • by Walt Dismal (534799) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @03:57PM (#27232399)
      I was bitten by a C# bug and now I can spin .NETs. However, my arch-nemesis is Doctor Oct-Torvalds, who has eight tentacle arms powered by a small open-source nuclear reactor.
      • by inKubus (199753)

        I was bitten by a C# bug and now I can spin .NETs. However, my arch-nemesis is Doctor Oct-Torvalds, who has eight tentacle arms powered by a small open-source nuclear reactor.

        Maybe he was the one who impregnated the octo-mom...

  • by Em Emalb (452530) <ememalb AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @03:06PM (#27231339) Homepage Journal

    a spiderman analogy gets beaten about the head, neck, chest, and shoulders with a rocket-propelled spaghetti launcher.

  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @03:07PM (#27231365) Homepage Journal
    For those of you who are thinking that deadly spider poison is some sort of elixir of mobility I have some bad news. Basically what happened is that he got sent to the hospital and the doctors noticed that his legs were in better shape than he thought, and with some physical therapy he was able to get them working again.
    • and summary... but a geek can dream.
    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @03:13PM (#27231481) Journal

      Fucking spoilsport.Why can't you let us enjoy our adolescent fantasies of possible superheroism for a little longer?

      I bet you spend the month of December telling little kids at the mall that Santa's a hoax. Miserable bastard.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      You are completely oversimplifying the article to the point where your statement is misleading. This man hasn't been able to walk in 20 YEARS. This isn't a case of some guy not putting forth the effort. The nurse noticed movement in his leg that hasn't been seen in this man, during the time he was in for treatment of the spider bite. They administered THE SAME TESTS this man has taken before with no results and he was able to FEEL something... which he COULDN'T do before.

      My guess is, spider venom is a nerv
      • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @03:48PM (#27232219) Journal

        Brown Recluse venom isn't neurotoxic, it's necrotic. If his legs rotted and fell off, I'd think it was possibly due to a bite from a brown recluse. Starting to work again? Doesn't sound likely.

        I would think it is equally plausible that he fell and it knocked something back into alignment, or he's been showing a long term improvement that wasn't quite to the detection threshold before.

        Attributing the improvement to the spider bite is very thin.

        • Brown Recluse venom isn't neurotoxic, it's necrotic.

          . . . for my family's great aunt's mobility problem: She can't move an inch without telling everyone in earshot, who doesn't want to hear, a complete medical history of her bowels and various other organs.

          If I can convince her that a bunch of spider bites are the solution to her real and imagined medical problems, that should have that problem sorted.

          Maybe AIG should give these spiders out, instead of bonuses?

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Alamais (4180)

            > Maybe AIG should give these spiders out, instead of bonuses?

            +1 I'll post your bail.

      • by vux984 (928602) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @03:50PM (#27232257)

        You are completely oversimplifying the article to the point where your statement is misleading.

        And you are making almost absurd leaps of logic.

        They administered THE SAME TESTS this man has taken before with no results and he was able to FEEL something... which he COULDN'T do before.

        Yes.

        My guess is, spider venom is a nerve toxin... it just so happened to manipulate the biology of these nerves in the same way a swift kick to the TV used to fix bad reception.

        Er. No. As you said, he hadn't been able to walk for 20 years. And he'd been in rehab previously with no success. While the article doesn't say, odds are it was a number of years since he'd last been in rehab.

        In reality land, nerve damage heals very slowly.

        I had a wisdom tooth extracted a couple years ago, and the procedure paralyzed a small strip on lip and chin. My mouth healed up nicely within a few weeks. The paralysis took almost a year. The doctor had warned paralysis was a possibility, that if it occurred it would take a long time to heal, and that there was a good chance it wouldn't heal at all. After six months it went from dead to 'tingling' when touched (sort of like the shooting sparks you get when your foot falls asleep), a few months later and it was healed.

        All the spider bite likely did is cause him to be in the hospital, where he was re-tested. If he'd gone in without the spider bite, he would almost certainly have had the same result. In the interval between the last test and the current one, the nerves had healed to the point they would carry signals again.

        After decades of no success, you don't go in to try every six months 'just in case'.

        The odds the spider bite had anything whatsoever to do with it is minimal.

        My guess is, spider venom is a nerve toxin.

        Except that the Recluse spider venom isn't particularly neuro-toxic at all. Its primary toxin simply aggregates platelets and white blood cells to clog capillaries, which causes necrotic flesh wounds. Rarely is the venom carried by the blood stream further. The main risk is that the necrotic flesh becomes a breeding ground for 2ndary infections. Its really more like gangrene than anything else.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Pollardito (781263)

          Except that the Recluse spider venom isn't particularly neuro-toxic at all. Its primary toxin simply aggregates platelets and white blood cells to clog capillaries, which causes necrotic flesh wounds.

          well maybe it worked like that BEFORE the spider got zapped with high energy gamma rays, but afterwards things were probably a bit different

      • by sjames (1099) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @03:58PM (#27232437) Homepage

        Actually, recluse venom is cytotoxic rather than neurotoxic. In the majority of cases, it causes nothing more than aches and a bit of feaver. In the minority of cases, it will cause a nasty necrotic ulcer local to the bite. Even rarer, the effects are diffuse and systemic causing various organ damage.

        It's hard to see where the bite would help, but if it did (that is, not a coincidence), I'd have to guess (and it's a wild guess) that it broke up scar tissue that was blocking healing in the nerves.

        • by Sir_Lewk (967686)

          Regardless, seeing pictures of what that spider can do is the reason I am now arachnaphobic.

          *shivers*

      • manipulate the biology

        /cries

      • by einhverfr (238914)

        Recluse spiders don't have nerve toxins, and the bites aren't as deadly as people suggest.

        They have a necrotizing venom which breaks down cells around the bite (and sometimes can get into the bloodstream to cause more widespread damage). I think it is too soon to say what exactly the mechanism is here, but it seems quite interesting to me. It makes you wonder if the spider bite destroyed some scar tissue that was impinging on a nerve or something.

        I think there might be some serious scientific possibilitie

        • by gtall (79522)

          If he was treated for the spider bite, it might also be the treatment itself might be responsible for the improvement.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @03:17PM (#27231543)

      This just in: Spider bite cures laziness!

    • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @03:19PM (#27231569)

      You think you're so smart, but I haven't RTFA. Therefore I don't know if you're lying or not, therefore in my world, this man MAY be spiderman.

      I live in a world where spiderman is possibly real, along with santa and the easter bunny. All you have is stupid reality.

      • by jd (1658) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <kapimi>> on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @03:28PM (#27231769) Homepage Journal

        What's wrong with Santa? We know St. Nick was real (so we know there are charitable people) and we know wormholes are real (so we know how to travel around the globe in an evening).

        The Easter Bunny is a modern corruption of the Eostre hare, which seems to have involved throwing eggs at Bugs in the morning, or something like that.

        Spider threads are one of the strongest organic materials known. If we assume the thread could be scaled to the thickness of a typical hemp rope and that the strength scaled with it, it might just about be strong enough to pull building over with, never mind scaling them.

        It's not about these superheros not being possible - clearly the science says otherwise. It's about them not having happened yet. Which, since the tales all come from the past, means time travel will have to be invented along with them.

        • It's not about these superheros not being possible - clearly the science says otherwise. It's about them not having happened yet. Which, since the tales all come from the past, means time travel will have to be invented along with them.

          Woosh. Really? Spiderman ISN'T real? Why haven't I read about this on slashdot before?

          • by jd (1658)

            *blink*

            You mean, you took my post seriously, even after suggesting Easter was based on throwing eggs at a cartoon character?

            I think there is indeed a whoosh here, but I don't think it's anything going over my head.

            • Aha! You took my post taking your post seriously seriously!?! Wooshmate!

              Actually, yeah, I did. To my credit, I thought you meant bugs as in insects, not Bugs Bunny. Capitalization should have given it away. While that doesn't make any more sense, it at least sounds more believable that someone would actually think that.

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by Faluzeer (583626)

            Woosh. Really? Spiderman ISN'T real? Why haven't I read about this on slashdot before?

            Do you filter out articles posted by kdawson?

      • by Moebius Loop (135536) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @04:54PM (#27233415) Homepage

        Of course. From the time the article is published until the point in time that you read the article, this man is juxtaposed between the state of BEING Spiderman, and the state of NOT BEING Spiderman.

        This is an excellent a thought experiment that illustrates the problems with the Copenhagen interpretation of Quantum Commenting.

    • Marvelous. One wonders if his damage was gradually regenerating all this time and is now detectable; or if, perhaps, he could have been rehabilitated to walk 20 years ago, had he been someone with more money than a tattoo artist / physical laborer.
    • by rMortyH (40227) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @04:40PM (#27233235)

      Most interesting, is there are NO BROWN RECLUSE SPIDERS IN CALIFORNIA!

      People will argue that there are, and they know someone whose been bitten, but loxosceles reclusa has only been found a handful of times in California in the last 50 years, all of the cases were isolated, and all were traced to shipments from outside the state. (great page from UC Berkeley prof on this that I can't find now...)

      A south american recluse has been spotted in the LA area but is not thought to be established.

      There are certainly NONE of these in Manteca.

      I can tell you though, that although there are none in San Francisco, people will argue that there are to the point of absurdity, so this is a sort of pet subject of mine about how people are wrong.

      However, there are so many Black Widows in the Manteca area that you can find several on a twenty minute walk if you're looking for them. Also, Black widow venom IS a neurotoxin, where recluse venom is not. There are also plenty of scorpions and biting centipedes in the area, but no recluses.

      Also, in cases where brown recluse IS confirmed, even in one case of large numbers of them in a family home, there were no bites. They're very rare, and necrosis from a CONFIRMED bite is very rare as well.

      Most of what you hear about poisonous spiders, even 'first hand accounts', are simply myths. Real brown recluses and black widows are just not very dangerous to healthy adults, and the brown recluses simply does not exist in most places where people claim to have seen them or claim to have been bitten.

      I'm most fascinated by the passion with which people will argue against this, even though it can be confirmed just by checking a few books!

      =rmortyh

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Hangingcurve (1132587)

        I have lived in Missouri for 33 years and the Brown Recluse is a very common spider here. They are inside everybody's home. I see them on a daily basis.

        If they were anywhere near as dangerous as they've been made out to be, half the population of Missouri would be dead and the other half would be walking around with rotting holes in their face.

        You would basically have to roll over or sit on one with bare skin exposed to risk a bite. A great majority of the actual bites are "dry" meaning no venom.

        Internet pi

      • by geekoid (135745)

        A) Areas a creature live in spread/move.

        There is no reason a Brown Recluse couldn't survive there, or start to become established.

        B) By your own admission, they can be moved around.

        C) Rare is different then can't.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        Maybe you're thinking of this [ucr.edu]? It's not hosted at UC Berkeley, but it does sound like what you're talking about. I found a reference to it at Wikipedia [wikipedia.org].

      • by bckrispi (725257)

        People will argue that there are, and they know someone whose been bitten, but loxosceles reclusa has only been found a handful of times in California in the last 50 years,

        I'm one of "those people". A coworker of mine was bitten by one in a hotel in San Diego. He required plastic surgery to patch in the chunk of flesh that rotted away.

      • by Dun Malg (230075)

        Most interesting, is there are NO BROWN RECLUSE SPIDERS IN CALIFORNIA!

        Untue. You even say so yourself in your very next sentence:

        People will argue that there are, and they know someone whose been bitten, but loxosceles reclusa has only been found a handful of times in California in the last 50 years, all of the cases were isolated, and all were traced to shipments from outside the state.

        Do not confuse "has established populations in California" with "is sometimes found in California". The former is false. The latter is established fact. Now, The fact that the brown recluse likes to spin webs in cardboard boxes should send up a giant neon sign that says

        THE BROWN RECLUSE ENTERS CALIFORNIA IN MOVING VANS

        The fact the few such spiders have been verified is more a testament to the fact that few spider bite victims capture their assa

    • Duly noted and tagged "idlenotscience"

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by SerpentMage (13390)

      I am going to disagree with you.

      If you look at the effects of venom it is actually quite amazing.

      Bee Venom: Used for many joint, and allergies.
      Snake Venom: Cancer

      Venom has very interesting side effects, but the devil is in the details and the dosage. Too much and you die, but just enough and your body has a reaction.

      It is an extremely fine line. In the case of this guy who could walk again it would not surprise me that the venom kicked off a reaction that caused the nerves to regenerate.

      The human body is an

  • by Guppy (12314) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @03:13PM (#27231467)

    The article is mis-leading, it sounds as if some biochemical trick of the spider venom mysteriously un-paralyzed him. The actual situation sounds rather more ordinary.

    From what I can tell, the spider bite just got him into the hospital, and in contact with the right kind of doctor and rehab that got him walking again. That's a little miracle in itself there, but it's the kind of miracle of circumstance and determination -- not the sort that goes into the science section.

    • by jd (1658)

      Hyperdilution got into the science section of Nature. In comparison, this article is positively accurate.

    • From what I can tell, the spider bite just got him into the hospital, and in contact with the right kind of doctor and rehab that got him walking again.

      TFA says he was in therapy, er a rehabilitation hospital, for 5 months. If it was a rehabilitation hospital I'm imagine they'd know what type of therapy he needed.

      Falcon

  • by arkham6 (24514) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @03:14PM (#27231491)
    http://cbs13.com/watercooler/Paraplegic.Man.Suffers.2.960606.html

    Nice.
  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @03:22PM (#27231657)

    David Blancarte, 47, is on his feet for the first time since suffering major injuries in a motorcycle accident some 20 years ago...

    He said he was riding on Third Street when a woman motorist made a left turn in front of him. He crashed into her vehicle and was thrown over her car and onto the pavement...

    The turn-around in his condition was ironically caused by the bite of a Recluse spider that put him in a Manteca hospital for five days. Then he was transferred to the Kindred (rehabilitation) Hospital in Modesto where he stayed for five months.

    Blancarte said when he was evaluated at the Modesto hospital his lifeless legs were tested â" actually electrically zapped by a doctor â" to measure nerve function. Not having been able to use his lower limbs for two decades, he was in awe to hear that his nerves were actually alive and could move them again.

    The lesson here is clear: women should not drive.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Microlith (54737)

      The lesson here is clear: women should not drive.

      And now for the followup...

      http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/03/16/national/main4870337.shtml?source=mostpop_story [cbsnews.com]

    • It was a man who was driving and hit me leaving me with a disability.

      Falcon

  • Sounds like he needed the spider bite that lets you walk AND become invisible.

  • It is clearly ADAM at work.

  • Quick, somebody chase him and see if he can crawl up the wall!

  • by Timberwolf0122 (872207) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @03:51PM (#27232277) Journal
    His doctor became agitated and in formed the press

    "Listen bud! He's got radioactive blood!"
  • He had kept a close eye on Christopher Reeves

    Christopher REEVE [imdb.com] portrayed Superman in 4 motion pictures.
    George REEVES [imdb.com] played him in B&W serials and television, and was untimely portrayed by Ben Affleck.

  • Reporting Fail (Score:3, Informative)

    by bsander (774553) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @04:55PM (#27233425)

    The story with a little less bullshit is here: http://www.theskepticsguide.org/sgublog/?p=519 [theskepticsguide.org]

    • That story is the BS. Writer rambles on without providing scientific/medical evidence it couldn't have happened.

      Notice I didn't say the spider did cure him only that the writer of the retort says reporters told a stupid story but he provides no evidence.

      Falcon

  • I had a friend who was a very nice, very hippie/crystals&dolphins type. She was bitten by a brown recluse that fell on her when she was dusting in her cellar. The bite was basically between her breast and armpit. Since she didn't believe in modern medicine she put a large variety of herbs on it, slept with a crystal next to it, and watched the necrotizing eat away at her for four months, at which point she'd lost part of her breast and much of her pectoral muscle in this handball-sized crater of horr

    • by JustNiz (692889)

      >> she put a large variety of herbs on it, slept with a crystal next to it, and watched the necrotizing eat away at her for four months

      My fear has been that since humanity, especially the US, is making everything even slightly potentially dangerous illegal, natural evolution no longer stands a chance. Its nice to see that mankind is finding its own ways of improving the gene pool.

    • by Shakrai (717556)

      Ugh, that story is another reason why I fucking hate spiders. I'm normally not one to kill for no reason (going so far as to try and capture moths that make it into my house and release them) but I terminate spiders with extreme prejudice, inside or outside. They all deserve to die horrible deaths.

      Well, not really, but how can it be that a member of the most powerful species ever to walk the planet is so utterly horrified of a lower species that (in most cases) poses zero threat to us?

      • Recluse bites are very nasty and I'd freaking squish one in an instant. Spiders I like though. I'll even rescue black widows.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      See go to a doctor and you get Cancer! Clearly caused by big Pharma~

  • From: http://www.theskepticsguide.org/sgublog/?p=519 [theskepticsguide.org] by Steven Novella

    Here is the real story, as best as I can infer from the information I am given, but I have a high degree of confidence in my interpretation. First, it is not plausible that the spider bite itself did anything to regenerate nerves or muscles or improve David Blancarte's neurological function. So what did happen. The story reports:

    Ever since, David's been relying on his wheelchair to get around. Then the spider bite. A Brown Recluse s

  • That article was painful to read. Don't people proofread things anymore?

Statistics are no substitute for judgement. -- Henry Clay

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