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Spider attack puts scare into DL woman

RED-BACKED JUMPING SPIDERS are common to California, and while they are aggressive and full of venom, they are not deadly. Pictured above is the male.1 / 2
Rita Alaniz was bitten twice by a red-backed jumping spider in her rural Detroit Lakes home. Now on antibiotics, Alaniz says she kept the aggressive spider for researchers at the U of M to take a look at.2 / 2

Rita Alaniz got a pre-Halloween scare she likely won't forget anytime soon.

As she was walking through her kitchen in rural Detroit Lakes Monday, she says she noticed a spider inching towards her 1-year-old nephew.

It wasn't a typical spider, though, and she says there was something about the way it was moving that creeped her out.

"It was moving sideways back and forth," Alaniz said, adding that her first instinct was to jump in front of her nephew.

"And when I did that, it put its butt up in the air, jumped straight up, and when it landed it spread its feet out," said Alaniz, "then it started going to the side really slow."

Before she knew it, Alaniz said the spider jumped up again and attacked her foot, biting her twice.

"It didn't feel like a normal spider bite, though, it felt like somebody stabbed me."

Alaniz says the thought of the spider getting away to potentially bite her or one of the children in the house was scarier than the thought of scooping it up in her hands.

"I picked it right up and stuck it in a jar," Alaniz said, "I didn't kill it because I thought it was a black widow or something and I thought if I squished it they wouldn't be able to identify it."

Alaniz says instantly her foot started to feel funny.

She says her first thought was to try to get some of the venom out, so she says she shaved off the raised part of the bite, stuck her foot in bleach and started squeezing the area.

Soon, however, that funny feeling in her foot turned to pain.

"The pain worked its way up," said Alaniz, "within an hour it was up to my knee, and then it was went all the way up my leg to my back."

Alaniz says that's when she started to feel other symptoms.

"I felt nauseous and dizzy; I had a headache, and I just kept sweating."

Alaniz says because she happened to be closer to the Perham hospital by that time, she went to the urgent care there, where she says they put her on antibiotics, gave her pain medication and identified the spider as the venomous Red-Backed Jumping Spider - a California spider that has a reputation for being fearless, painful, full of venom, but not deadly.

"They told me they had never seen anything like this in Minnesota," said Alaniz, "it's suppose to be native to like California - this just doesn't happen in Minnesota, especially this time of year."

Alaniz says between her and the medical staff at the Perham hospital, they narrowed down their suspicions to a box of bananas Alaniz says she brought home from Walmart.

"So I called them and told them what had happened, and they were glad I called because they were going to go and check the rest of their crates," said Alaniz, who admitted that she can't be positive that's where the spider came from.

As of Tuesday, the spider was still locked up tightly in the jar it was shoved into after the bite.

"They (hospital officials) were going to call the University of Minnesota to see if they want it," Alaniz said, "the cap is screwed on pretty tight, though."

And not far from it in Alaniz's kitchen now sits a whole new arsenal of spider spray.

"It's a female, so I don't know if it had babies somewhere or something," she said looking around her house, "It's just creepy. I had two spider nightmares last night."

Meanwhile, Alaniz says as of Tuesday she still had pain in her leg, a headache and was still sweating.

"I just keep thinking, 'what if it had bitten one of the kids'," said Alaniz, "That would have been a lot more serious."

Alaniz says she was told by the doctor that her quick actions with the bleach probably helped her.

She says she'll spent the next couple of days watching for infection and naturally, looking for spiders.