December 10 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
A venomous spider whose bite left a man fighting for his life and forced a school to be evacuated has been spotted in east Norfolk.
A school in the Forest of Dean was closed yesterday after false widow spiders were found in a computer room.
And as reports of people being bitten by the creatures continue to rise, there has been an increase in reported sightings in and around Great Yarmouth.
Great Yarmouth Borough Council environmental health department has received three separate calls in the last two days (Monday and Tuesday) from concerned members of the public and there have been more reported on social media.
Officers have moved to reassure the public that, despite having a name similar to the infamous black widow, the false widow is not deadly, although it can administer a nasty bite like many other spiders.
The spider has been in England for about 200 years.
Conservationists believe that changes in the climate could be encouraging the spider to make itself at home in new areas including Norfolk.
In Yarmouth on Monday night, a pregnant woman living in the town centre contacted the environmental health department on Monday night to report a false widow spider and possibly a nest outside on her balcony.
Jeremy Marsh, a senior environmental health officer, said: “I have never received any reports before about false widow spiders, so three in two days is certainly unusual.
“The key message to the public is don’t panic. It is not a deadly invasion. The spider has been in England for two hundred years and never killed anyone.
“They can bite and produce venom that could leave a slight swelling and tingling sensation, but usually the bite is no worse that a bee or wasp sting.
“However, medical advice should be sought in the event of an allergic response or you are already compromised by health issues.
“This spider is fairly sedentary, remaining in or close to the nest. Their web tends to be well above the ground on external walls of buildings, so the risk of being bitten appears to be very small.”
The false widow can grow up to the size of a fifty pence piece, including the legs, and has a round abdomen. It is brownish in colour with beige markings and red-orange legs.
If a resident requires further advice, they can contact the environmental health department on 01493 846478 or email email@example.com.