A holiday-maker retuned from his travels with an experience to remember – after medics pulled a tropical spider out of his body.
Dylan Thomas was visiting Bali when he noticed a mysterious red trail stretching two inches from his belly towards his left nipple.
“It was like someone had scratched me with a knife,” he told NT News.
When the angry red line grew even longer, he consulted a doctor who advised it was simply an insect bite and gave him some anti-histamine cream.
But within hours angry, painful blisters erupted along the red line, sending him back to hospital where a dermatologist determined a tropical spider had burrowed into the 21-year-old’s body presumably via a recent appendix scar.
From there, the arachnid “a bit bigger than the size of a match head” had diligently burrowed its way up to his sternum.
The spider, which was mercifully dead when it was removed with tweezers, is currently being identified and naturally, Thomas has acquired the new nickname ‘Spider Man’.
Thomas, from Bunbury in Australia, told the Bunbury Mail: “It wasn’t really a tickling sensation, obviously once the venom started to affect my skin it was a really burning sensation like a searing feeling.”
Writing on Facebook he said: “Well that’s escalated… Spider man is well and truly going to stick as a nickname here.
“… After running tests and putting things inside my stomach they finally found out it was a tropical spider that’s been living inside of me for the last three days, managed to get it out luckily.
“Haven’t felt so violated in my life before! Just glad it’s all over.”
Thomas is now hoping his friends will chip in to pay for a Spider Man tattoo to cover up his scar.
The spider is of the genus Phoneutria – Greek for ‘murderess’. Makes sense.
Despite their name, they aren’t only found in Brazil – they’re native to South and Central America.
They are so named because they are typically found wandering across the jungle floor at night – presumably when the other spiders are safely tucked up in their beds.
Their bite is 30 times more deadly than that of the rattlesnake. So potent is their venom, just 0.006 mg (0.00000021 oz) is sufficient to kill a mouse.
It is the presence of PhTx3, a potent neurotoxin makes the spider’s bite potentially lethal.
The Brazilian wandering spider can have a leg span of up to 17 cm.
Bites are known to cause severe pain, breathing problems and paralysis. They are described as "large and highly aggressive creatures [who] often enter human dwellings and hide in clothing or shoes. When disturbed they bite furiously several times, and hundreds of accidents involving these species are reported annually."
An effective antivenom has been developed, known as Soro antiaracnidico. Antivenom is typically created by milking venom from the desired spider, insect or snake (as illustrated) then diluted and injected into a horse, sheep or goat. The subject animal will undergo an immune response to the venom, producing antibodies against the venom's active molecule which can then be harvested from the animal's blood and used to treat envenomation. Internationally, antivenoms must conform to the standards of pharmacopoeia and the World Health Organization
A toxin from the venom – PnTx2-6 - boosts the availability of nitric oxide, a chemical that dilates blood vessels and increases blood flow. This means bites can lead to priapism – a persistent, usually painful erection. A study published last year in the Journal of Sexual Medicine suggests the toxin could be used to help treat erectile dysfunction in humans.
A website maintained by Rod Crawford, curator of arachnids at the University of Washington’s Burke Museum, maintains that deaths from Brazilian wandering spider bites are rare, with only 10 fatalities in more than 7,000 reported cases.