Holidaymaker from Stevenage issues warning after suspected false widow spider bite in Lanzarote

Barry's leg after the suspected false widow bite.

Barry's leg after the suspected false widow bite. - Credit: Archant

A holidaymaker who ended up needing hospital treatment after suffering what is believed to have been a false widow spider bite is warning others to take care.

Barry Jackson, pictured with his dog, is thought to have been bitten by a false widow spider while o

Barry Jackson, pictured with his dog, is thought to have been bitten by a false widow spider while on holiday in Lanzarote - Credit: Archant

Barry Jackson, of Verity Way in Stevenage, was enjoying a holiday in Lanzarote when he began feeling unwell.

“I woke up one morning shivering – hot one minute and cold the next,” he said. “I lost my appetite and just drank water.”

Mr Jackson also had shooting pains in his head, but put it down to sunstroke and flew home a few days later, on July 19, still feeling under the weather.

The following day, Mr Jackson went to work, but his leg was aching so made an appointment to see his GP. He had bites on the backs of his legs, but put them down to fleas from cats close to where he was staying on holiday.

The 56-year-old said: “I was given oral antibiotics but the next day I woke up and just below the knee to just above the ankle was very swollen.

“I went to Lister and they kept me in. I was given intravenous antibiotics four times a day and kept in for three days. I have been going back every day since for intravenous drugs and was only completely discharged on Monday.”

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Apparently when he was admitted to Lister, Mr Jackson’s white blood cell count, which fights infections, was at 233 instead of a healthy 10.

He said: “The consultant treating me said it was a bite from something with venom and the false widow spider is the only thing that fits the bill in the Canary Islands.” The swelling to his leg has begun to reduce and Mr Jackson, who said his emotional state was severely affected by the venom, is hoping to return to work soon, but will have regular check-ups with his GP for some time to come.

He said: “I was unlucky to get bitten, but just be careful. I assumed I had sunstroke and I ignored the symptoms. It could have been a whole lot worse.”

Seven species of false widow spiders are recorded in the UK. Four are native to the UK, two were accidentally introduced with traded goods and the other doesn’t appear to be established here yet but is frequently imported.

In no way can this species be considered deadly. This is a species of spider that is able to bite, which usually leads to a degree of pain, redness and swelling in those bitten.