Practitioners of traditional medicine used cobwebs to dress wounds and to wrap sprains and fractures. An elderly South Carolinian, remembering her childhood, spoke of gathering "great big ones, thick like cloth and shiny from the dew," to wrap broken bones instead of having them set by a doctor, or to bind up wounds. Besides acting as a natural gauze, the webs contained certain natural elements (some say minerals) that enhanced the body's ability to heal.

As long as the spider webs were uncontaminated, they were beneficial. Problems arose because some of the webs were gathered from stable walls, where they were contaminated by tetanus germs. When tetanus-contaminated webs were used to bind the stump of an umbilical cord, a child often died of "nine-day fit," so called because convulsions would occur usually about nine days after the tetanus germ had been introduced into the child's bloodstream through the open wound.

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