Brit left with purple leg after mistaking horrifying spider bite for blister

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A backpacker bitten by one of the world’s most deadly spiders mistook the itchy red wound for a blister.

Iona McNeil, 38, even joked that she might die after waking up in pain the day after the brown recluse spider sank its fangs into her ankle. The critter is in the top 10 of the planet’s most lethal arachnids.

Iona said: “I woke up at 6am the next day in pain. I couldn’t walk too well on it and I felt nauseous. I joked to one friend that if I died then could he make sure that people wear bright colours to my funeral.”

The dancer was bitten while climbing the 1,082ft Monkey Mountain in Mexico last December. Iona first noticed a circular red spot on her left ankle on the way back.

The next day, after waking up in pain, she saw two marks on her leg and knew it was more than a blister.

Iona took herself to hospital but fainted twice on the way. And as the poison took hold of her body, her leg grew swollen and purple.

She said: “I sprawled out on the waiting room chairs and my body started trembling violently. I was
shaking from head to toe because the poison was taking me over.”

Doctors knew instantly she had been bitten and told her the venom was “eating her tissues”.

Iona, of Lewisham, south-east London, flew back to England and was taken straight to the Tropical Diseases Hospital in London, where she spent Christ-mas. She joked: “It was a bit of a crash from the highs from travelling.

“Being alone in hospital and looking at the horror show that was my foot tipped me over my edge. I cried my eyes out. A nurse came in and I was completely irrational and couldn’t be settled.

“I screamed at her about my worst fears – amputation.” But the infection started showing signs of improvement on Iona’s fourth day in hospital.

It was just another holiday misadventure for Iona, who has previously broken her ribs in Thailand, been mugged in Colombia and caught a hookworm from living on a deserted island in Costa Rica.

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  • Spiders
  • London

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