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Dermatology Online Journal

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Hitchhiking spider: a case of unilateral vasculitis


A 63-year-old man presented with two days of palpable purpura over the right anterior shin and calf with notable point tenderness on the distal mid-calf without any palpable deep abnormality. Localized right calf pain worsened with walking and was associated with headache, chills, fatigue, and low-grade fevers. A punch biopsy of the anterior right lower leg showed necrotizing neutrophilic vasculitis of superficial and deep vessels. Direct immunofluorescence showed non-specific focal granular deposition of C3 within vessel walls. Three days after presentation, a live spider was found and microscopically identified as a male hobo spider. The patient suspected the spider arrived via packages shipped from Seattle, Washington. The patient was treated with a prednisone taper with full resolution of his cutaneous symptoms. Given the unilaterality of his symptoms and otherwise unexplained etiology, the patient was diagnosed with acute unilateral vasculitis secondary to hobo spider bite. Microscopic examination is required for identification of hobo spiders. Although not deadly, there have been several reports of cutaneous and systemic reactions resulting from hobo spider bites. Our case illustrates the importance of considering hobo spider bites in areas outside of their native regions, as they are known to travel in packaged items.

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