Warning of False Widow spiders after man has leg amputated

A dad-of-two has spoken of his horror after he fell seriously ill after being bitten by a false widow spider - which led to his leg being AMPUTATED.

Andy Perry, 46, is believed to be the first Brit to lose an entire leg from a spider bite, after he almost died when the creature sank its fangs into his ankle.

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He had been working as a landscaper when he fell ill with severe back pain just 48 hours after a fencing job in Thorpe Astley, Leics.

Andy had no idea he had been bitten by Britain's most venomous spider until he was rushed to hospital suffering from sepsis and kidney failure.

He required emergency care, was placed on an IV drip and remained at Leicester Royal Infirmary for a week.

Over the next few weeks the infection subsided but he was left with lymphedema - a painful and debilitating swelling of the leg, which left his skin falling off.

He said the pain got so bad that he even considered chopping off his own leg with a chainsaw.

After numerous appointments with specialists Andy opted for an elective amputation above his right knee, which was carried out in March.


He has now been left wheel-chair bound, unable to work or play with his children and needs daily treatment.

Andy, of Huncote, Leics., who lives with his police officer wife Christine, 39, said: "I was doing a quote for a job in 2015 and I was coming home at lunchtime to look after the kids because my wife was on shift.

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"But within a couple of hours I started feeling really poorly.

"I rang the missus to see if she could come home but she couldn't and the next I know I got a massive ache in the small of my back.

"That was pretty much me done then and Christine came back home when I called her again.

"I went to bed when she got back, pretty much for the whole weekend and I was throwing up.

"Then on the Sunday morning it was a question of having to get over to the hospital as soon as I could.

"I was seen by a doctor in the Royal Leicester Infirmary Triage and he said there was no chance of me going home.

"Then he admitted me straight away, the ache in my back was the kidney's packing up from the infection and sepsis.

"I put on a IV anti-biotic and almost died because of the sepsis."

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Blood tests

Experts believed the false widow spider was to blame after daily blood test when a phlebotomist noticed two puncture marks on Andy's ankle.

The doctor in charge deemed the bite to be from the false widow spider - as its bite has similar effects that Andy was experiencing.

Andy added: "It was the phlebotomist who did my daily blood test - he spotted these little puncture marks on my ankle.

"He said it looks like a spider bite, they then got the doctor in charge to have look and that's what they came to agreement on.

"They came to a conclusion it was a false widow spider because it has a reputation of biting people.

"The puncture marks were just above the sock line because I used to wear socks and boots.

"The only thing we can think of is that I literally just brushed past it and its had a quick bite as I've gone past.

"Apparently the bite of the false widow feels like a bee sting but I didn't feel a thing.

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Not unusual

"The spiders are an awful lot more common than people think.

"After they sorted out the kidney function, things started improving and the sepsis was beaten by the anti-biotics.

"I've had the district nurses coming around for the next three months changing the dressing on my leg every day.

"The lymphedema caused the leg to swell to the point where the skin split and fell off.

"That was all just a massive open weeping sores and blisters and just generally horribleness.

"And that was it, the leg was all but useless from that point, I spent a certain amount of time trying to get treatment.

"There just wasn't a surgeon nearby who wanted to touch it because of the lymphedema as it was a live infection.

"So without getting any treatment I just couldn't work - so I figured I would go down the route of elective amputation in a last desperate attempt to get back to work.

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"But again trying to find a doctor or surgeon to look at the amputation was hard.


"Eventually I had to threaten my GP with cutting my own leg off with a blade from a chainsaw because I was getting so desperate.

"Out of that I tried a guy in Coventry who climbed on board straight away as soon as he saw the leg.

"I spent 20 minutes talking to him, needed a second opinion and spoke to prosthetic people and as soon as that was done it was all agreed.

"The leg was cut of on March 13 of this year, it should've been healed by now but I got a secondary infection so I was back in surgery on April 27.

"I've now got a vacuum dressing on me which pulls all of the gulp out of the leg and takes it away.

"The plan is to rehabilitate the leg, get a prosthetic and get back to work for this year or next.

"I had been a landscaper for about five years prior to the bite and I had a good business going on but now its all gone.

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"We've been living off my wife's salary - I have got zero income because of this bite."

Andy is now hoping to get help to fix up his garden so he can play with his children Thomas, 8, and George, 5.

He added: "They've been brilliant, they've taken it in their stride, we have explained every single thing about whats happened all the way along.

“I’ve contacted lots of builders yards in the hopes of securing donations of materials. I can’t afford to buy the items which I think will cost around £4,500.

“I know it is a long shot but I’m hoping to raise donations of materials and then I’m hoping to find friends and tradesmen willing to help out by doing the work, a kind of Ground Force, DIY SOS thing, on a local basis.

"I just need to get a prosthetic but we don't think that will be this year - I had promised the boys to take them trick or treating at Halloween but I don't think that's a possibility now."

Climate change

The UK has seen a rise in false widow spiders - dubbed Britain's most venomous spider - in the past four years, believed to be caused by an increase in climate.

The influx of the eight-legged beasts has seen a number of unsuspecting Brits hospitalised.

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The false widow spider is not deadly, but can deliver a similar bite to its antipodean cousin, which can kill within hours.

Instead of the venomous black widow spider, which dons devilish black and red markings across its body, the false widow spider in Britain is usually harmless.

The Steatoda nobilis is native to Madeira and the Canary islands, and is believed to have arrived on British shores via a cargo transporter in the 19th Century.

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