Tuesday 20 February 2018

'It felt like my arm was in pain from the inside' - Man bitten by false widow spider

Victor appeared to have an allergic reaction to the bite
Victor appeared to have an allergic reaction to the bite
The false widow spider

Sasha Brady and Mark McConville

A man was left in severe pain after he was bitten by a false widow spider on Saturday.

Filmmaker Victor Karu, who is based in Maynooth, Co Kildare, was working on a shoot outdoors, about 15km from Kilkenny city, on Saturday morning when he was bitten by a false widow spider.

Speaking to Independent.ie, Victor said he had been walking and examining his filming location when he noticed some spider web threads on his jacket.

It was a short time later before he realised he had been bitten.

Pulling the threads off his jacket, he continued to walk but soon began to experience some discomfort on his left arm.

"The irritating feeling on my wrist became stronger so I had to stop again and to pull the sleeve up again but I couldn't see anything," he said.

Victor outlined the bite mark with a pen
Victor outlined the bite mark with a pen

"I decided that the fabric of the jacket was somehow pulling the hair on my arm so I went back to the car and changed back into my hoodie."

He removed his jacket but the strange sensation didn't go away.

When he looked closer at his wrist he was surprised to see three bite marks, and later, another one higher up on his arm.

He said: "Things started to get quite nasty: all the area around the three bites got swollen and became red and what was worse - it was burning like I had spilled boiling water on it plus my whole arm was in pain."

Victor appeared to have an allergic reaction to the bite
Victor appeared to have an allergic reaction to the bite

He then started to experience some dizziness and a headache and what he described as "a different sort of pain".

"It felt like half of my arm was in pain from the inside... like the bone was hurting, or something was twisting it," he explained.

"Also my index finger was kind of getting numb and the entire arm below the elbow was tingling, itching (apart from burning very strongly) so it worried me a bit. Also at times I felt that my heart rate was slower than usual but I can't really tell if that was because of those bites."

Victor looked up his symptoms online and found that they matched those of people who had an allergic reaction from a bite of a false widow spider.

His family have urged him to seek medical advice.

Steatoda nobilis in Latin, the false widow spider is about the size of a 20c coin - however, it has a severe bite.

The false widow spider
The false widow spider

They only bite when they have been provoked and tend to cause pain similar to that of a bee sting.

Although the bite is rarely fatal, it can cause a severe allergic reaction in some people which could then require medical treatment.

It has a dark, shiny body with pale markings and cream band on its abdomen.

Spider expert Myles Nolan said the false widow prefers to be outside, often building webs on houses, railings and garden walls with a dark place to retreat to at night.

They are rarely indoors and while a false widow bite is not fatal, it does have a strong venom which some people have had a strong reaction to.

It is believed they arrived in the UK from the Canary Islands more than 100 years ago, however have now spread to Ireland.

While Ireland is too cold for the lethal black widow to survive, the false widow has been colonising here since at least the mid 1990s having arrived with travellers or on freight or supplies.

It is thought their spread is aided by climate change.

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