A British barrister is reported to be preparing to sue Qatar Airways, alleging he was bitten by a venomous type of spider known as the brown recluse, or violin spider, on one of its flights, leading to ghastly and agonising “flesh eating” injuries to his leg.
The lawyer, Jonathon Hogg, is reported to have said the airline denies responsibility.
According to a report in Britain’s Daily Express, Hogg was flying between Qatar and South Africa after a five week holiday in Australia, when he says he was bitten by a spider aboard the plane.
Hogg crossed his legs to get into a better position on the flight “when I felt a small, sharp pain radiating in my left leg”, the paper reported.
“I turned on the light and clearly saw a spider running across the floor before hearing two stewardesses screaming ‘Spider!’, but I wasn’t sure if I had been bitten as it really wasn’t very painful.”
The luridly written Express article is illustrated with appallingly graphic photos of a huge ulcerated wound on Hogg’s leg. The article, for those with the inclination and stomach to view it, can be found here: http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/608683/British-tourist-Jonathon-Hogg-brown-recluse-spider-Qatar-Airways-Australia-South-Africa
The report says surgeons had to cut a big chunk out of Hogg’s leg to stop the infection spreading and doctors in South Africa diagnosed a brown recluse bite. The pain was unbearable.
The Express article quoted Richard Duxbury, from law firm Slater and Gordon, representing Hogg, saying airlines had a responsibility to protect passengers from dangerous potential pests by properly fumigating all planes. The law firm will now investigate Hogg’s claim “to determine if there has been any wrongdoing by the airline”.
Wikipedia says the brown recluse or violin spider (Loxosceles reclusa) is a species of spider native to North America.
“The range lies roughly south of a line from southeastern Nebraska through southern Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana to southwestern Ohio. In the southern states, it is native from central Texas to western Georgia and north to Kentucky.
“The bite frequently is not felt initially and may not be immediately painful, but it can be serious. The brown recluse bears a potentially deadly hemotoxic venom. Most bites are minor with no necrosis [death of tissue]. However, a small number of brown recluse bites do produce severe dermonecrotic lesions (i.e. necrosis); an even smaller number produce severe cutaneous (skin) or viscerocutaneous (systemic) symptoms.”
Wikipedia adds, citing a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine: “It is estimated that 80% of reported brown recluse bites have been misdiagnosed.”
Written by Peter Needham