A man has died of horrifying injuries and massive internal bleeding after he was reportedly bitten by a Redback spider; this spider is also known as the Toilet Spider due to its habit of lurking under loo seats.
John Francis Kennedy died last month aged 48 and his widow, Jeanne, is positive that his death was caused by a bite from a Redback spider, one of the few spider species whose bite can be potentially fatal to humans.
Jeanne, who is from Middleton in County Cork in Ireland described how her husband was sat in their home, watching a film, when the bite happened:
“He got bitten. We found a spider with a weird red back. But the bite he got had bled very badly. We went through a roll and a half of toilet roll to try and stop it. Ever since his health went down. His stomach started swelling, they said it was his liver and his pancreas. His testicles also swelled up very bad.”
John’s eyesight began to fail and he also endured periods of vomiting up blood. As his health deteriorated, he was admitted to hospital, where he died last month.
An inquest to find the cause of his death is underway, but Jeanne is convinced she knows the answer; in an interview with the Irish Sun she said: “It had to be down to that sting. He was in perfect health before the bite happened.”
The Redback spider is usually found in Australia, but in 2010 a fistful of the deadly arachnids fled a crate being unpacked at BAE Systems in Preston. Some of the spiders were carrying egg sacs and many vanished before pest controllers could deal with the situation. Since then, there have been confirmed sightings as spread out as Aberdeen, Coventry and Swansea.
As temperatures rise and trade and travel increases, more and more non-native insects arrive in the UK each year. Richard Moseley, who works for the British Pest Control Association, said: “These insects move with trade and transport. As the world becomes, theoretically, a smaller place and people go on more unusual holidays and we bring in commodities from unusual places, the spread increases. These insects are on the move now.”
Australia now has anti-venom for the poisonous bite, but before it was developed, the Redback spider bites claimed at least 14 lives down under.