Friday 23 August 2019

Spider's bite: False widow warning after woman spends days in hospital

The one found by Ms Condon was brown with white markings on its back
The one found by Ms Condon was brown with white markings on its back

Aoife Walsh

Spider experts have warned of the dangers of the false widow spider after a woman was bitten and had to be hospitalised for six days.

Maria Condon, from Ferrybank, Waterford, was taken to University Hospital Waterford after blisters formed on and underneath her leg within minutes of having been bitten by a spider which ran up the inside leg of her jeans.

Speaking on WLR FM's 'Deise Today', she said: "Staff said it was the worst such bite they'd ever come across from a false black widow.

"I wasn't aware at the time of how serious the infection could turn out but I ended up in hospital for six days after what seemed to be three bites in total."

Meanwhile in Sligo, a three-year-old boy was left with a second-degree infection after a spider bit him on the leg while he was walking through a field with his father.

The boy's father, Cormac Melia, said: "When we were walking he said he got stung by a nettle and he was very itchy.

Blistering to Waterford woman caused by false widow spider bite
Blistering to Waterford woman caused by false widow spider bite
And father of young boy fears he could be scarred

"The next morning it was much worse.

"It started with a small blister and that burst, so we thought it would heal but it spread bigger and bigger and had a massive blister on it." Doctors believe he suffered a spider bite and he was prescribed strong antibiotics and a steroid cream.

His father said he "is on the mend" but could be left with a scar.

The noble false widow spider, which was spotted in Ireland for the first time in Bray, Co Wicklow, in 1997, originates from the Canary Islands and Madeira.

They are now found in all major towns, from Dublin - where they occur in very large numbers in and around houses - to Wexford, Cork, Galway and Sligo.

The one found by Ms Condon was brown with white markings on its back.

However, the experts say the false widow is not a "particularly aggressive" species, and "usually bite only when they are squeezed between the skin and clothes or a bedsheet", said Dr Michael Dungon, a researcher from Venom Systems Lab at NUI Galway.

He and his fellow researcher, John Dunbar, said: "The noble false widow is the only species of spiders capable of delivering a medically significant bite in northern and western Europe.

"The symptoms described by victims of confirmed bites include a very fast onset of moderate to intense pain around the bite site quickly expanding to the whole limb."

Irish Independent

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