AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS (CBS Atlanta) – A 22-year-old Dutch woman came back from an Italian vacation with an unwanted souvenir…a bite from a venomous spider, according to

She sought treatment at an Italian hospital for pain in her ear and swelling on her face, but was unable to find relief.

Once she got back home to The Netherlands, her ear got worse: part of it turned black, meaning the skin and cartilage was dead.

Doctors determined the culprit was a Mediterranean recluse spider, whose bite is known to destroy skin and underlying fat.

Victims are often disfigured for life, but this is the first known case of the recluse spider’s venom causing damage to human cartilage.

In this case Dr. Marieke van Wijk was able to reconstruct the ear by removing the dead tissue and recreating the ear with cartilage from the woman’s rib cage.

The report appears in the Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery.

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