Monday, 20 October 2014

You call that a deadly spider? Australia's funnel web can kill in 15 minutes

Queensland expert says Brazilian wandering spider found in UK family’s shopping pales in significance beside its more lethal Australian counterparts


theguardian.com, Monday 20 October 2014 04.15 BST

An Australian spider expert has ridiculed reports from the UK of a family discovering the “world’s deadliest spider” in their groceries.

The risk posed by the Brazilian wandering spider paled in significance beside its more lethal Australian counterparts, the funnel web and the redback, according to Dr Robert Raven of the Queensland Museum.

UK tabloid the Mail On Sunday reported that a London couple were shocked to find the spider and a cluster of its eggs in a bunch of imported bananas.

But Raven said the newspaper’s account of 14 deaths worldwide caused by the spider had probably confused it with a number of reported fatalities for either the redback and the funnel web.

Research had linked the Brazilian spider to 10 deaths at the most, which were “highly likely” to be the result of anaphylaxis, or toxic shock, that could as readily have been caused by an ant bite, he said.

The 14 reported deaths each for the funnel web, which can kill in 15 minutes, and the redback, whose venom is even deadlier, exclude anaphylaxis, he said.

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