Student has emergency surgery after being bitten by venomous spider at Welsh holiday park

·3-min read
A false widow spider (Stu’s Images)
A false widow spider (Stu’s Images)

A student was left fighting for her life after she was bit by a “giant” venomous spider while she was on holiday in a Wales caravan park.

Abby Tanetta was staying in her parents’ caravan at Cardigan Bay Holiday Park, near Poppit Sands, when she was bitten whilst sleeping.

She describes spotting a spider in her bed after waking in agonising pain, coming from under her arm.

Days later, she was rushed to hospital for emergency surgery, as doctors feared that she could contract sepsis if the oozing infection was not halted.

The 18-year-old from Caerphilly, Wales, said: “I woke up with a sharp pain that woke me from my sleep, looked next to me and I just saw this giant spider running away from the bed.

“It was really sore and just got worse. It got bigger, it was very red, itchy and so sore that I couldn’t move my arm or sleep on the side.

“I was feeling really dizzy and weak, I was boiling and I felt like my heart was racing and the lump had grown even more to the size of a golf ball.”

Ms Tanetta said that three days after she was bitten she visited her GP surgery as she was unable to sleep because of the pain. She was prescribed antibiotics and told to go to A&E if pus started to leak from the lump.

Two days later, that’s exactly what happened. She said: “I didn’t feel any better from the antibiotics and then on Monday morning, I woke up and there was blood and pus all over my T-shirt — I must have ended up sleeping on my side … It was really scary.”

“By the time I went to A&E, I was feeling really awful, hot, weak and my blood pressure and heart rate were really high.

“The doctors said I needed surgery and I just looked at my mum in shock. I don’t like blood or needles and I was really scared but they said it could turn into sepsis if we waited too long.

She said that even though she was put on a drip straight away and given an oxygen mask to help her breathe, she collapsed as the doctors rushed her into surgery.

Doctors were able to drain the infected area and remove the lump, leaving a “4cm deep” wound under her arm. Ms Tanetta stayed in hospital overnight and was discharged the following day.

She said that recovery had been challenging, but that her condition was improving.

“It’s been difficult. I’ve been in such pain whilst recovering. The pain is a lot better now. After the surgery I felt like I’d been stabbed, but it has died down and now I’m just uncomfortable instead.”

Ms Tanetta said that she had managed to capture the spider, which she believes to be a false widow, in a tupperware container.

“I think it was a false widow spider — I’ve done some research and found other people in Wales who have been bit by them in the same place under their arm as well. My photo of the spider matches the markings of false widows I’ve seen online as well.”

She added: “People always say that spiders won’t hurt you, that you’re much bigger than them, but this shows they can. You just don’t think it will happen to you until it does”.

Ms Tanetta’s experience comes shortly after the British Arachnological Society reported a “huge increase” in spider sightings of all kinds, including false widows.

False widow spiders can be identified by their glossy brown and cream mottling. Their bodies are medium sized — 7 to 14mm in size — and round, with reddish-orange coloured legs.

They are native to the Canary Islands and increasingly common throughout southern England and Wales. The false widow spider is known to have a more toxic bite than native British spiders, but they are not known to be particularly aggressive or to cause serious injuries.

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