False Widow spiders land couple in hospital despite 3 fumigations

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Venomous false widow spiders have left the owners of an old warehouse needing urgent hospital care.

Philip Oakley and Olivia Yip have had their workshop in Hastings, East Sussex fumigated three times but their spider infestation continues to bite.

The couple bought an old fruit and veg warehouse to renovate as a workshop for their lighting design and fashion work but quickly discovered they were not alone.

Over the past five years of owning the property, lurking spiders have sunk their venomous fangs into the pair three times.

Most recently 58-year-old Philip was reduced to tears after suffering a bite on his middle finger on April 19.

Olivia first has suffered ulcerated bites on her leg and waist that needed daily hospital dressing changes in 2018 and 2019 and took months to recover from.

Philip has fumigated the property every year for the last three years in a bid to protect the 38-year-old fashion technician from any further bites.

But this time the agitated arachnids turned their attention to him and while he initially brushed it off as a splinter, Philip soon realised he'd fallen victim to a false widow spider bite when his finger ballooned and started throbbing painfully.

After two trips to Conquest Hospital's A&E department for antibiotics and pain relief, he was referred to Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, West Sussex, where he underwent two surgeries to scoop out the infected tissue.

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Philip, from Hastings, East Sussex, said: "We own an old fruit and vegetable warehouse that we use for work and it perhaps has false widow spiders that came over with bananas – that's probably why we have a lot of the spiders in the building.

"We've fumigated it three times but they still seem to be around.

"My wife had two ulcerated bites, one on her leg and the other on her waist, that took several months to get over. She went to hospital to get her dressings done every day for a month.

"They start as nothing. You don't feel it, you just have what you think is a spot starting that you think you're going to be able to squeeze and it doesn't ever develop a head.

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"It felt like a splinter, a little bit tender to the touch but nothing major, then it became inflamed and swelled up.

"When it started on my finger I thought 'oh my god here we go I'm in trouble with this'.

"I had to go to A&E at about midnight on a Sunday with excruciating pain, I think the swelling was so great it was making my knuckle dislocate.

"I was crying with pain and they gave me morphine and said I had to go to a specialist hospital for treatment.

The following day Philip said the pain was so excruciating he went back to A&E where he was given morphine.

He was then transferred to a specialist hospital for further treatment which kept him in bed for a week.

Philip said: "My finger suddenly got so swollen that it was like it couldn't get any bigger.

"My finger was double the size it usually is, it was throbbing and it felt like my finger was being dislocated from the swelling."

Philip now does 30 minutes of physio a day in a bid to regain movement and grip in his right hand, and he hopes to be back at work, wearing gloves next week.

  • Spiders
  • Hospital

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