Delivery includes nasty spider

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 June, 2012, 12:00am

A Hong Kong mother had an unexpected extra delivered with a package of household items from Australia - a deadly spider.

The venomous redback spider leapt out of some wind chimes which arrived along with other items on Friday at the Sai Kung home of ballet teacher Tina Eldridge.

The spider, small but potentially deadly, sped towards the deliveryman. Luckily Eldridge's partner, Holger Eichstaedt, had lived in Australia, where the redback is common.

'The deliveryman didn't realise what it was,' Eldridge said. 'Holger shouted, 'Put the wind chimes down,' but he wasn't bothered and just carried on. So Holger grabbed the wind chimes and we hit the spider with a shoe and then sprayed the wind chimes with Biokill.'

Eldridge said the spider had been packed up about six weeks ago and shipped with items belonging to Eichstaedt, who recently relocated to Hong Kong from Perth.

'If you get a bite in Australia, it is OK because there is anti-venom,' Eichstaedt said. 'But here in Hong Kong, it is not OK because there is no anti-venom - which is why we flattened it.'

About 250 people are treated each year in Australia for bites by the spider, a type of black widow distinguished by the red strip on its abdomen. The main symptom is severe pain, which may spread out from the bite area and last up to 48 hours.

Other symptoms include headache, fever, chest pain, sweating and, in serious cases, respiratory failure and even death.

A spokesman for the Hong Kong Poison Information Centre said that although the bite of the redback spider was widely publicised as deadly, it was rarely life-threatening in modern health settings. Children are at more risk, he said.

The spokesman said there had been no reports of redback-spider bites in Hong Kong since the centre was established in 2005.

In 2001, a Hong Kong hospital had to fly in anti-venom from Sydney to treat a policeman who had been bitten by a redback spider at a barbecue in Australia. The man had not noticed the bite and had flown to Hong Kong the next day, when he started suffering leg cramps during the flight.