Student, 18, fighting for life after bite from ‘false widow’ spider on holiday

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A student was left fighting for her life in hospital after an enormous venomous spider bit her while she was sleeping on holiday, leaving her with a golf ball sized lump on her arm.

Abby Tannetta, 18, was at her parents' caravan with a friend to celebrate finishing college when she was attacked.

She woke up in agony, with a pain under her arm, and spotted a huge spider in her bed – thought to be a false widow – and ran from her room in fear.

Days later, Abby was rushed into hospital for emergency surgery as doctors feared the young student could contract sepsis if the oozing infection was not halted.

Her scary encounter came just days after the British Arachnological Society (BAS) reported a "huge increase" in sightings of all species of spiders – including venomous false widows.

Abby, from Caerphilly, Wales, said: "I woke up with a sharp pain that woke me from my sleep, looked next to me and I just saw this giant spider running away from the bed.

"I was feeling really dizzy and weak, I was boiling, and I felt like my heart was racing and the lump had grown even more to the size of a golf ball."

Abby had been to her parents' caravan in Cardigan Bay Holiday Park many times before and had never come across any spiders quite like this one.

It was the first night of her most recent trip when she woke up in the early hours of May 26 with a stabbing pain in her side and a giant spider next to her in the bed.

Student Abby said: "I'm really scared of spiders anyway so my first reaction was to scream and run out of my room panicking.

"I went back in and couldn't find it anywhere, it had hidden somewhere, but I had this little mark under my arm.

"It's hard to describe the pain of the mark but even though it was this tiny spot, the pain of it felt like a stab wound. It was so, so sore any time I lifted my arm, as if there was something huge there."

Abby started taking antihistamines daily to combat any infection left from the bite, but the lump under her arm kept growing in size and becoming more painful.

She managed to capture the spider in a Tupperware container and took a photo of the beast that bit her, which she believes could be a false widow spider.

Unable to sleep from the pain, Abby visited her GP surgery three days after she was bitten after she was left feeling dizzy and weak.

She was given antibiotics and told to head to A&E if pus started to leak out of the lump, which is exactly what happened just two days later.

"I took my top off and it was just covered in pus and blood. It was really scary," Abby said.

Abby was told by doctor's that she required surgery to combat the risk of sepsis.

"I couldn't breathe so I had an oxygen mask and I heard the doctors saying 'Oh my god, she's really in a bad way' as they rushed me into theatre," Abby, who feinted due to a panic attack before surgery, said.

Abby was given general anaesthetic for the surgery, where doctors drained the infected area and removed the lump.

The surgery was a success and Abby was kept in hospital overnight after her body was left so weak from fighting the infection.

She returned home the following day and has since had a nurse attending the house every day to have her wound, which was 4cm deep post surgery, re-patched.

Abby warned: "People always say that spiders won't hurt you, that you're much bigger than them, but this shows they can. You just don't think it will happen to you until it does."

  • Spiders

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