A Faro designer suffered partial paralysis after being bitten in her sleep by a mysterious grey spider.
Around 5cms long, the unidentified arachnid may have arrived in this country in a box of fruit – possibly bananas.
Andrea Fonseca has no way of knowing. She simply woke up with a feeling of numbness in one leg, her left arm and hand – and saw the horrible creature “leaving the bedroom”, say reports.
Writing on Facebook, the 35-year-old explains this all happened in January, but still today she’s not fully-recovered.
The spider injected a form of neuro-toxin into her bloodstream that anaesthetised the area around her heart, liver, arm and hand.
“I was left with no sensibility and inflammation in my tendons, which remains today. The situation was serious, with possible risk to life”, she writes.
Recovering slowly, helped by physiotherapy, Andrea is keen to know if there are any specialists who might be able to aid her recovery “in collaboration with the excellent, tireless team at Faro university hospital that has been accompanying me”.
But she also wants to warn people of the dangers that could be lurking in their fruitbowls.
Theories are that the spider will have arrived in Portugal in a consignment of fruit, like bananas, from a ‘tropical country’ – where spiders this size are more prevalent.
Certainly there is no spider species in Portugal that fits the bill.
Biologist Ricardo Silva has told tabloid Correio da Manhã that “a situation like this occurring in Portugal is not normal”. However, it happened, and as Andrea Fonseca fears, it could happen again.
Says her Facebook post: “I want to warn you about something unthinkable. It’s a personal story but of public concern…”
Venomous spiders can lay eggs amongst fruit picked for export, she explains, which then hatch in transit.
“Living things capable of killing can easily invade our homes without us realising through a simple purchase at a supermarket…”
We have been warned.
As to the guilty spider, there has been no further news of scary bites in Faro. We have no idea whether the creature is still alive, whether it has laid eggs, or even where it went. But Andrea’s warning has been shared over 10,000 times, and she’s received over 3,800 messages wishing her a speedy recovery, so hopefully all those people will be keeping their eyes peeled.