According to a story in the Times Online, Matthew Stevens was bitten twice on the hand by a Brazilian Wandering Spider as he cleaned behind the freezer of his pub. The creature, not generally associated with life in England, is believed to have arrived as a stowaway in a box of bananas.
Before the swelling and dizziness hit, the 23-year-old snapped a picture of his assailant to prove to friends just how big it was (very big--about 5 inches).
Later, as Stevens' condition deteriorated and doctors fought to save his life, they were able to send the picture to experts at the Bristol Zoo, who identified the spider and told doctors which type of anti-venom was needed.
The Brazilian Wandering Spider, or Phoneutria fer, is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's most poisonous spider, with venom glands up to 10mm long (just under half an inch) containing enough poison to kill 225 mice.
Not good news for patients at the Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton, where Stevens was treated. In a follow-up story, the BBC News reported today that the spider, which had been captured and brought to the hospital, was accidentally released onto the grounds by a staff member who thought it was harmless. However, the freed spider is not thought to pose a health risk as experts say it would have died soon after its release.