Spider attack chef saved by mobile phone snap

Hi, doc - I just got bitten by this...


A Somerset chef who was bitten twice by a highly-venemous Brazilian spider was saved thanks to a snap he took of the beast on his mobile phone, the Times reports.

Matthew Stevens, 23, disturbed the Brazilian Wandering Spider (Phoneutria fera) which had stowed away in a crate of bananas and found its way to the Quantock Gateway pub in Bridgwater. The highly-aggressive arachnid - rated among the world's most poisonous - then apparently legged it and took cover under a dishcloth. Stevens takes up the story: "It was hiding in a cloth and when I squeezed the cloth it bit me. It was about as big as the palm of my hand. I went to try and pick it up and it bit me again. It landed in the freezer, which stunned it."

Unaware that he had just been savaged by a monster which carries enough venom to dispatch 225 mice to the hereafter, Stevens then grabbed a quick pic on his mobe as a keepsake of the encounter. However, he was soon on his way to the local community hospital after his hand swelled "to the size of a balloon" and he began to suffer dizziness.

Hospital staff had a shufti and sent Stevens on his way with a quick "go home and keep an eye on it". Soon after arriving, he collapsed, prompting his partner, Cara McSweeney, to call an ambulance which whisked the rapidly deteriorating chef to Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton.

Doctors put Stevens on a saline drip, but his condition continued to worsen. He recalled: "I thought I wasn’t going to make it. My chest was so tight I could hardly breathe. My blood pressure was going through the roof and my heart was beating so hard I could feel it hitting my chest. The doctors didn’t know what type of spider it was, but I’d got a picture of it on my phone and they sent it to Bristol Zoo to identify it."

Stevens was discharged the next day after docs flushed the toxins out of his system with increased saline. Defra inspectors later found the spider in a state of "suspended animation" in the fridge.

The Times notes that the Wandering Spider killed 14 people in Brazil between 1926 and 1996, although no-one has died since thanks to the successful development of an antidote. ®

Bootnote

The Guinness Book of Records lists the Brazilian Wandering Spider as the planet's most poisonous (venomous), although a quick trawl of the, ahem, web reveals that many pundits mark the highly unpleasant Sydney Funnel Web Spider for that particular accolade - possibly as a result of its extremely obstreperous attitude and fangs which are capable of biting through your fingernail. Nasty.

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