Last week, we reported (like many news outlets) reported that Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman had died at the age of 49 due to complications from a spider bite that he had suffered several years before. However, disease specialist Kent Sepkowitz is saying that initial reports of a spider felling the legendary thrash metaller simply aren’t true. In fact it appears that we have it exactly backwards.
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“People with severe underlying medical problems, such as chronic liver disease, are at increased risk for necrotizing fasciitis,” wrote Sepkowitz of the illness suffered by Hanneman after a spider bite in an article for The Daily Beast. “So rather than the 2011 illness influencing his death, it is more likely that the very illness that killed him – liver failure – was the same condition that predisposed him to the near-death experience two years ago.”
Basically,, Sepkowitz theorizes that Hanneman had a pre-exisiting liver condition that made him more likely to contract necrotizing fasciitis, a disease that affects the fascia- a fibrous tissue around the muscles of the arms and legs. The tissue recieves no blood flow, making infections to the area particularly nasty as antibodies can not reach it and antibiotics are typically ineffective.
Oftentimes, the cure for fasciitis is amputation. Luckily, Hanneman did not suffer this fate. However, his death two years later should be seen as a case of his liver condition finally claiming his life, not a continuation of a battle with fasciitis.
Sepkowitz offers several reasons why the late guitarist could have suffered liver damage, including Hepatitis A, B, C, and E. The CDC recommends that all people who were born between 1945 and 1965 get tested for Hepatitis and claims that the coverage of his death as a death by spider bite, distracts from the “silent epidemic” of the “common, preventable and treatable condition” that actually caused his death.