Saturday 25 May 2019

Irish man hospitalised after black widow spider bite

Craig Butler (20) was bitten by the venomous spider and had a three-inch gash in his right foot.
Craig Butler (20) was bitten by the venomous spider and had a three-inch gash in his right foot.
Craig Butler (20) was bitten by the venomous spider and had a three-inch gash in his right foot.
Craig Butler shows an x-ray of his foot after the spider bite.
Craig Butler's foot is well bandaged after the bite.

An Irish surfer had to be hospitalised after he was badly bitten by a black widow spider on a holiday in Africa.

Craig Butler (20) was bitten by the venomous spider and had a three-inch gash in his right foot.

The spider sank its fangs into his leg when he was on a surfing trip to Africa 12 days ago.

Craig, a six-times Irish surfing champion felt nauseous and dizzy within hours of being bitten, and at first he believed he had food poisoning.

The surfer had to cut his trip short because he was feeling so ill and his foot had swelled massively.

When he arrived home, his local doctor knew something more uncanny had happened.

Craig said: “Turns out the hole on my foot is an infected false black widow spider bite."

“The thoughts that one of these little buggers was bouncing around my tent has put me off camping for life.”

“Off to the hospital after coming to the conclusion, foot feels like it’s on fire with needles being stuck into it,” he said

The surfer has been waiting on a trolley for more than 12 hours in Waterford Regional Hospital as doctors get set to operate on him.

‘‘There's a layer of dead skin that won't come off so to let the wound heal, they also need to scrub it out as to get rid of any more venom that may be lingering helping the bite to spread,’’ he told

He was admitted to hospital at 2pm yesterday where he was X-rayed and his blood was tested for poisoning and MRSA bacteria.

‘‘It wasn't until 10 o'clock last night I got a trolley in the corridor and I'm still waiting on a bed so they can operate on me,’’ he said.

‘‘I’m still waiting on a trolley, it should be some time this afternoon, but it’s in a bad way now at the moment,’’ he said.

Craig said he has taken a ‘‘turn for the worst’’ since he entered hospital and is hoping to be operated on soon.

‘‘It’s a stinging burning sensation. What's paining me the most is the inability to eat as I have to fast before being operated on.

‘‘This is the last case situation as I've been on three different courses of antibiotics - one stronger than the other but nothing has helped."

‘‘If anything I'm in a worse condition than I was a week ago and I had the bite 12 days ago,’’ he said.

He said doctors told him that if it was left untreated, he could have suffered gangrene, which can be life threatening, or blood poisoning.

‘‘You've heard what happened to Bob Marley, he got a nasty wound though not a spider bite but he went untreated and got blood poisoning.

‘‘Though I'm the complete opposite to Bob, I don't want to take any chances,’’ he said.

Craig will have to stay out of the water for at least a month.

‘‘But in saying that I will be out of the water for up to a month, but what's a month out of 15 years of being in the ocean,’’ he said.

The devoted surfer learned his lesson two years ago after he split his leg open while he was travelling and it got seriously infected.

‘‘I didn't go for treatment. I got violently ill whilst surfing in France and six months later I woke up one morning not able to move in bed, screaming in agony,’’ he recalled.

The sports lover spent six months bed bound and on crutches with two ‘‘massive elephant feet.’’

‘‘Surfing is in my blood and I wasn't able to do it due to the pain, I cried and cried everyday as I seen my dreams swept away,’’ he said.

He was diagnosed with arthritis while he was recovering from the incident.

‘‘I hit rock bottom and fell into a bad depression from not being able to surf,’’ he said.

Craig runs a Facebook page called Craig Butler Surfer to highlight his surfing achievements and adventurous activities.

The surfer from Tramore, Co Waterford who won his first title at only 13 years of age, has joked that he can now claim the title of the first Waterford man to be hospitalised by a spider.


He described the wound in his foot as “gross” and he said: “Unfortunately I need to call it quits on this trip for now and cancel my flights and ferries and get a flight home so I can get my legs treated, hopefully not for long though.”



Want to find out more about false widow spiders?

Poisonous false widow spiders spread across Ireland

Pet shop owner: 'False widows coming to Ireland in pet food'

Aishling Phelan and Geraldine Gittens

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News