In 2004 the Entomology Department at Cal-Riverside posted an article on its website describing a wide range of other diseases, which have commonly been mistaken for a brown recluse spider bite including tick bites, diabetic ulcers and lymphoma.
Schaffner Hannemen's infection could have been caused by any number of minor cuts or scratches that allowed bacteria to get below the surface of the skin.
"Any little thing can do it," said Schaffner of necrotizing fasciitis. "It's often an injury that goes unnoticed."
Schaffner said even if the wound was confirmed to be a spider bite, it can be very difficult to discern if the bacteria came from the insect itself or from bacteria entering through an open insect bite.
Hanneman died Thursday morning in a Los Angeles area hospital with his wife, Kathy, by his side. No funeral arrangements have been announced.