'I nearly lost my hand to Britain's most poisonous spider': Woman bitten while she SLEPT by close relative of deadly Black Widow that lives in UK


Recovering: Catherine Coombs woke up in excruciating pain when she rolled over and was bitten by the false widow on the back of the left hand

For anyone with a fear of spiders, having one crawl into your bed and bite you is truly the stuff of nightmares.
But for Catherine Coombs, the nightmare is still continuing almost two months later, as a bite – believed to have been from the UK’s most venomous species of spider – nearly caused her to lose her left hand.
The 48-year-old woke up in excruciating pain one night in February, and her hand began to swell dramatically.
She was taken to hospital, where surgeons operated on her three times to remove the poison and decaying flesh and to try to prevent the venom from spreading up her arm.
At one point her condition was so bad doctors feared they would have to amputate her hand.

Deadly bite: Catherine Coombs from near Poole, Dorset, spent six weeks in hospital recovering from the venomous bite of the false widow

Her body temperature plummeted as the skin infection cellulitis set in and an inflamed patch on one of her legs even sparked concerns it had spread via her bloodstream.
Mrs Coombs has spent six weeks in hospital and is now at home waiting for the infection to leave her body before she can have her tendons, which were left paralysed, rebuilt.
From the nature of the marks on her hand and her symptoms, doctors believe the culprit is likely to have been a noble false widow spider, named after its similarity in appearance to the black widow spider.
Mrs Coombs, a former medical photographer who lives near Poole, Dorset, said: ‘I have been terrified of spiders all my life.

Race against the clock: Surgeons operated on her three times to remove the poison and decaying flesh to prevent the venom from spreading up her arm

‘People tell you it’s such a silly phobia and they can’t hurt you, but now I know that they can.’
She added: ‘For a while the doctors were worried that I may even lose the hand completely and I had to sign for amputation every time I went under anaesthetic.
‘Every time the surgeons operated they found more and more decay. They just kept taking away the dead flesh. Every time I woke up I made sure my hand was still there.’
She continued: ‘For the first week I felt very poorly and had a very high temperature and felt like I had a really bad case of the flu.

‘Or they could fall on babies in prams. In the old days you used to put nets over prams, but you rarely see them now.’
Noble false widow spiders are about the size of a 50p piece but have the most venomous bite of any spider in the UK.
They tend to be found more commonly in southern England but it is thought they are now spreading further across the country due to climate change.
For the most part, they bite only when provoked, and Mrs Coombs believes she may have caused the one that attacked her to bite after rolling on to it as she slept.
In February, father-of-one Chris Galton, 31, collapsed after being bitten ten times by a false widow spider on the back and neck in Southampton.

source: dailymail