Ocean kayaker survives nasty katipo bite

By Martin Johnston

A female Katipo spider. Photo / Supplied
A female Katipo spider. Photo / Supplied

An ocean kayaker resting on a remote beach south of Gisborne was bitten by a katipo spider and treated in hospital for intense pain.

But at least he didn't suffer the fate of the only other recorded katipo victim of the last 60 years - the Northland skinny dipper who was nipped on the penis by the venomous native which had apparently nestled in the man's pants left lying in the sand dunes.

The latter man, a Canadian tourist, suffered heart inflammation and spent 16 days in hospital before coming right.

He had taken a nap in the dunes and woke to find his penis "swollen and painful", the New Zealand Medical Journal reported in 2010.

One of the doctors in that case told the Herald at the time: "It was a rather nasty, ill-placed bite."

The more recent case, reported in today's NZ Medical Journal, involved a 29-year-old man who was paddling down the East Coast of the North Island. He stopped for the night on a remote part of Mahanga Beach at the base of Mahia Peninsula.

"While eating dinner in the sand dunes, he felt something crawling on his left calf, and brushed it off with his hand."

Thirty minutes later, sharp pain hit his leg, before gradually intensifying and spreading to his lower abdomen. He also developed chest pain, nausea and tingling in his mouth.

An ambulance took him to Wairoa Hospital. He was given drugs for pain and possible severe allergic reaction and - on the advice of the National Poisons Centre in Dunedin - redback spider anti-venom, after which he rapidly improved. He was discharged the next day.

Doctors Lucinda Thatcher and Ron Janes, of Wairoa Hospital, said in the journal that it was only the second reported katipo bite since 1951.

They cited a review that year in the journal by R.W. Hornabrook, which found that before then, 22 cases of katipo spider bites had been reported, including two deaths.

- NZ Herald

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