It's Not Spiders, It's Staph Infections

November 21, 2003--Posted at 6:15 p.m.

Jonesboro, AR--The spider problem at the Craighead County Jail, may not be a spider problem at all.   It could be something more serious; staph infection.

A Region 8 mom says her son was bitten by a spider while in jail and wasn't given any medical attention until the poison ate a hole in his hand and he had to have surgery.

Sharon Stevenson said, "They said at first they weren't sure, but that he might lose that finger, but it didn't go that far."

Doctors discovered he had a staph infection and Sheriff Jack McCann says that's all he had and believes, in this case and others, there was no spider bite.

"Our exterminator told us, it takes a spider the size of a half dollar to cause that type of wound and of all the traps and things they put out here, all the spiders are small," said Sheriff McCann.

Jail paramedic Steven Metcalf said, "We were treating what we thought were spider bites, but we have determined it was not spider bites, it was a staph infection problem.  And that has to do with the crowding and the closeness, and how clean they stay."

In fact, Metcalf believes the vast majority of recent claims of spider bites at the jail are more likely, previous wounds infected with staph.  A problem jails across the country are battling.

Sharon Stevenson said her son required surgery for his infection and is alright, but should have been given medical attention sooner.

Sheriff McCann said, "He did not ever request medical treatment. A guard noticed the wound and contacted our medical people and we took care of it from there. He did not ask for medical treatment, we initiated that on our own."

Sheriff McCann said the Craighead County Jail has one of the best medical staffs of any jail in the area.   He said  they are doing everything they can to stop the staph problem, by constantly disinfecting everything they can at the jail.   But he adds, in general, prisoners are not always the most hygenic.