Two people in hospital after false widow spider bites in Sutton
Two people have been hospitalised following bites from toxic spiders as an outbreak in Sutton continues
The outbreak of venomous false widow spiders in the borough has claimed its first two casualties with a grown man and a teenage boy having to go to hospital for treatment to their bites.
The false widow is Britain's most venomous spider, capable of delivering a painful bite that usually causes a burning sensation and swelling but can lead to more severe symptoms including nausea and even loss of consciousness.
There have been several sightings of the spiders, distinctive by their shiny, black flesh, bulbous bodies, thick legs and skull-like patterns on their backs, in the borough in recent months.
But in the past two weeks the outbreak has intensified with people spotting the creatures in their homes and gardens all over Sutton.
A false widow spider in Carshalton
William Fraser, 14, was bitten at his home in Benhill Road on Thursday evening by a spider that is believed to have got into his bedroom. he woke the following day with a small bit mark on his forearm but by the time he got home from school on Friday his condition had worsened.
Mum Sarah Fraser said: "The whole of his forearm had swollen from elbow to wrist. We gave him an anti-histamine and paracetamol. The next day he seemed to get better but on Sunday he just got worse and worse. He was feeling ill and he had to go to bed.
"We got him up to St Helier and the doctors and nurses hadn't even heard of false widows. When we showed them the article [in the Sutton Guardian] the doctor seemed very concerned and wanted to keep him in overnight."
In the end William was allowed home following a strong dose of penicillin and his condition has improved.
A bite on Mr Giordano's hand
Alexander Giordano, 39, of Broomloan Lane in Sutton, was bitten on his shoulder and wrist. His arm started hurting and his hand went numb and, as a childhood leukaemia sufferer, his immune system is weak so he went to A&E to be checked over and was put on a course of antihistamines, antibiotics and cream for the affected areas.
Spider experts say the animals only usually bite when threatened and if people are bitten they are best to treat the bites themselves and stop them from becoming infected.
If you find a false widow spider at home, Sutton Council advises people to tackle them with insecticide or to contact its pest control department vis customer services on 0208 770 5000.
This false widow was found in Tewkesbury Road, Carshalton
False widow factfile:
- Latin name: Steatoda nobilis/grossa
- Habitat: Houses and outbuildings.
- Diet: Flies, small insects and even other spiders
- Size: Females up to 3cm, males are about half the size
- Web: Small and untidy
- Other information: The spiders are not native to the UK but are believed to have arrived here from the Canary Islands in the 1870s and have survived in small numbers since then. They like heights so are usually found in the upper storeys of buildings. There are more than 600 species of spider in the UK, 12 of which are venomous. There have been no recorded deaths from false widow bites. The recent mild winter could have caused numbers to swell after many that would have died off in cold
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