Local man Alan Brookes endured a fortnight of agony after an afternoon in the garden thanks to what he thinks is a white-tailed spider bite.
Local man Alan Brookes endured a fortnight of agony after an afternoon in the garden thanks to what he thinks is a white-tailed spider bite. FRANK REDWARD

Tiny welt ends in major surgery

AN afternoon in the garden ended in a fortnight of agony and major surgery for one local man.

Toormina resident Alan Brookes had been “playing around in his garden” on Sunday, July 5 when he noticed a small welt on his right ring finger.

Not thinking much of it, he had a shower and went to bed.

By Tuesday, the finger had swollen so much and was so painful he could not use the joint.

“My wife sent me to the doctor who put me on tablet antibiotics and gave me two days off work,” Mr Brookes said.

Thinking he would soon be on the mend, Mr Brookes went home to rest. However, over the next few days things only became worse.

“By Thursday it was an open, weeping sore. By Friday, my whole hand was swollen, I had a red track running up my arm and I had chest pains and felt terrible.”

Still refusing suggestions by his doctor to go to the hospital, Mr Brookes was placed on antibiotic injections, which he said eased some of the symptoms.

“By the Saturday/Sunday the swelling in my lymph nodes and arm had gone down but my hand and finger were still swollen.

“I thought the antibiotics would eventually work but when I went to the doctor on Sunday for my shot he said I needed to go to the hospital.”

By this time Mr Brookes’ finger was an open wound. On Sunday afternoon he was admitted into surgery, with doctors still unsure as to what caused the infection.

“They put a ‘Vac-Pump’ in my finger that pumped out the toxins and increased blood flow to the wound.”

He was discharged from hospital on Friday, July 16 but will need ongoing treatment. At this point, he is still unsure what caused the infection but said it was more than likely a bite from a white-tailed spider.

“The tests all came back as inconclusive – possibly a spider bite or some kind of plant material. But the area around the wound was eaten away, I really think it was a bite from a white-tailed spider,” he said.

“It’s going to be a while before I’m back to normal.

“My advice to anyone is listen to your professional’s advice. I would have been a lot better off going to the hospital earlier.”

HOW TO IDENTIFY A WHITE-TAILED SPIDER

White-tailed spiders have a dark reddish to grey, cigar-shaped body and dark orange-brown banded legs.

The grey dorsal abdomen bears two pairs of faint white spots (less distinct in adults) with a white spot at the tip. The male has a hard, narrow plate or scute on the front of the abdomen.

They range from 12 mm to 18 mm

White-tailed spiders around your house can be controlled by catching and removing any that you see and by clearing away the webs of the house spiders upon which they feed.



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