Is Britain being invaded by brown recluse spiders?

A five-year-old girl has become the second
child to be taken to hospital after suffering a suspected brown recluse spider bite in just
two weeks. Lucy Cannon, of Framlingham, Suffolk, was
left with a large oozing scab after being bitten by one of ‘dozens’ of arachnids
that had taken over the family home. It came a fortnight after eight-year-old girl
Abbie Kinnaird was left with a gaping hole caused by another suspected brown recluse
35 miles away in Colchester, Essex. The bites have sparked fears of a deadly arachnid
invasion, with Lucy bitten while she was asleep on November 13, two weeks after Abbie’s
bite on October 28. Lucy’s mother Sarah Cannon claimed she saw
unusual-looking spiders in the home in the weeks before the bite, but thought nothing
of it and hoovered them up. However, after Lucy was bitten, the 31-year-old
mother-of-two had to take her to hospital after developing cellulitis and she was kept
in for three days. Carer Ms Cannon said: ‘It’s been awful
to watch Lucy go through this, it’s been really scary. It just feels like it’s one thing after
another, which is quite draining. ‘When I saw the story about Abbie Kinnaird
the similarities between her and Lucy struck me. It started exactly the same way and the injury
looks identical.’ Ms. Cannon said Lucy’s bite – which ‘still
looks yucky’ now – appeared as a small blister-like mark, which was itchy but then became sore
and inflamed. Over the next few days the redness around
the bite got bigger so Ms. Cannon took Lucy to a doctor who gave her an anaesthetic cream
and a course of antibiotics. Later that week the bite had not improved,
a black mark appeared and Lucy was shivering, so Ms. Cannon took her back to a doctor who
advised going to hospital. She said: ‘I was worried that it was blood
poisoning. When they suggested I should take her to hospital
I was quite panicky, it was all really scary.’ Lucy was admitted to Ipswich Hospital and
hooked up to an antibiotic drip which was administered every eight hours to try to flush
out the infection. Ms. Cannon said: ‘At first they said she
might need surgery and a skin graft but we were lucky as she accidentally knocked her
hand at the hospital which seems to have released a lot of the poison. ‘At one point she had a fast heartbeat and
her temperature was very high – hitting 40 Celsius – but she was soon well enough to
come off the drip and take oral antibiotics.’ Since leaving hospital Lucy has weekly check-ups
with the nurse to check the infection doesn’t return. Ms. Cannon said: ‘She would cry because
of the drip and is now a bit anxious at follow-up visits and says it’s fine even if it’s
not because she’s scared they’re going to put another needle in. ‘We need to keep an eye on it and won’t
be done with the weekly visits until after the new year. ‘We are now more aware the spiders are there
– but I try not to think about them too much because if I did I wouldn’t sleep at night. ‘Before this happened if Lucy saw a spider
she would go and get a glass to release it outside – she’s very independent like that
– but now she won’t go near one.’ Abbie’s mother Hayley, 35, said she was
surprised by how similar Lucy’s injuries were to her daughter’s, adding: ‘I was
really shocked when I saw the pictures. ‘At first I thought they were of Abbie’s
hand, it’s just really weird to see a near-identical injury like that, right down to the black
bit in the middle. ‘I would urge any parents concerned about
a bite to get it checked out straight away, and if you’re not happy to get a second
opinion. I’m glad I did.’ An East Suffolk District Council spokesman
said: ‘We have not been made aware of any such incidents.’ The spokesman said that it is not an Environmental
Health issue, so ‘the District Council would not expect to be involved or made aware’. However a Department for Environment, Food
and Rural Affairs spokesman said: ‘Sightings of non-native spiders should be reported to
local councils’ environmental health teams.’ National Health Service England have been
approached for comment, while Public Health England said the matter was not something
they would comment on.

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