Dear Paolo

I saw you give a talk at London Skeptics In The Pub in Camden Town last month on the above topic which is the currently the media’s “Hysteria Of The Month”.

I saw this story on the BBC News website today which will be of interest:

Although the report mitigates its shock value to an extent (it states that FW attacks are rare, that the creature is not generally aggressive, that you are far more likely to die of a wasp or bee sting and it wasn't the spider itself that caused the infection but a parasite that it was carrying), this is still pretty unnerving stuff.

Could this yet prove to be the Millennium Bug/Killer Bee Invasion that turns out to be something more than a non-event, or should we file it away in the drawer marked “Possible Things That You Could Die From That Are Actually Far Less Risky Than The Stairs In Your Own House”?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards

Ed Turner

There's a whole lot to these scaremongering reports that shouldnt be believed. People writing these know little to nothing about spiders, and even less about medical conditions. The issues often match beautifully to common bacterial conditions, septicemia, necrotising fasciitis etc, all with bacterial origins, which can be caused by all manner of pucture wounds - nothing to do with spider venom (aka deadly 'poison' in the press).

I'd personally file it under "possible things you can die from that are much more likely caused by getting scratched by your pet cat, dog or even dirty cutlery than a spider" ... note she doesnt appear to have actually seen a spider and the quote "the poison was going straight to my heart" shows she didn't understand the worsening condition was caused by spreading bacterial toxins. I'd have like to know how many days it was before she went to the hospital, the reports dont specify that.

Hi Ed,

apologies for not replying sooner - I only just spotted this! I did write a blogpost about this topic last year: … b-of-lies/

I agree with Stuart 100%, there is very little evidence from any reports of 'spider bites' that I've seen in the press that indicate a spider was involved at all. Usually people have simply let a small injury get infected and jumped to conclusions.

I'd be more concerned about the dangers of crossing the road or getting on a train!