Experts have advised the public not to panic following a recent incident where a Sunderland woman had a finger amputated as a result of a suspected spider bite.
Mother of two Andrea Wallace was bitten while playing with her children in a park in Thorney Close. It is thought that the spider was a False Widow, which look similar to the deadly Black Widow spider.
Spider specialist Steve Lowe, head of conservation at the Northumberland Wildlife Trust, explained that although there has been an increased number of sightings in the UK, the False Widow spider is not new to Britain.
He said: “Out of the seven species of False Widow currently found in the UK, three are native to the British Isles.”
However, Dr Geoff Oxford from the University of York casts doubt on recent False Widow spider sightings in the SR area.
He said: “False Widow spiders have not been reported anywhere near Sunderland. They have been living on the south coast of England for at least a century without causing any problems. It is true that they are spreading northwards.
“No British spider is dangerous. The majority of British spiders have jaws so small they can’t get through human skin.”
Experts say if you do come across a spider you think is a False Widow, don’t panic. They also warn people against aggravating spiders as they will only bite if there is a threat or disturbance.
If you do get bitten, the advice is to treat the symptoms at home and make sure it does not get infected. Most people will experience nothing more than an uncomfortable numb sensation but if your symptoms become more serious then seek medical assistance.#####