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Holidaymaker suing Qatar Airways after poisonous flesh-eating spider bite sees Briton almost lose leg

Published 29/09/2015

Jonathon Hogg was on a Qatar Airways flight when he suspects he was bitten by a venomous brown recluse spider
Jonathon Hogg was on a Qatar Airways flight when he suspects he was bitten by a venomous brown recluse spider

A holidaymaker on the trip of a lifetime almost lost his leg after suffering a flesh-eating spider bite.

Doctors told Jonathon Hogg he could have died after he was bitten by a poisonous brown recluse spider, which he believes happened on a flight from Qatar to South Africa.

Within hours the 40-year-old's leg had ballooned and turned black, and by the time he reached hospital it was "bursting open".

Mr Hogg, from Camden, north London, said: "The pain was like nothing I've been through in my life. By the time I got to hospital my leg was bursting open, there was pus, it was black.

"It was a right mess. They told me if I had been any later I would have lost my leg or even died. It was terrifying."

Doctors rushed him into surgery and cut away a large part of his leg where the venom had eaten the flesh, but what was left "resembled something from a horror film".

He s pent a month in hospital in South Africa, undergoing three operations and a skin graft, but three months on is still receiving medical treatment.

The keen footballer and kickboxer is now terrified of flying and fears he will never play sport again.

Mr Hogg, a barrister, had taken five months off work and worked at an orangutan sanctuary in Borneo before travelling to South Africa in June to dive with sharks when his ordeal began.

Six hours into a flight from Doha to Cape Town he felt a pain in his leg before spotting a spider running across the floor.

He said: "I was struggling to get comfortable during the journey and crossed my legs to get into a better position when I felt a small, sharp pain radiating in my left leg.

"I turned on the light and clearly saw a spider running across the floor before hearing two stewardesses screaming 'Spider', but I wasn't sure if I had been bitten as it really wasn't very painful."

But his leg swelled up and became bruised so he took painkillers as he thought it might be deep-vein thrombosis.

The next day it was worse - and he was stunned when colleagues said it looked like a spider bite and he needed urgent medical attention.

Doctors diagnosed a bite from a brown recluse spider, which is venomous and potentially fatal, and warned him he could have lost his leg or even died if he had not been treated.

After an operation to remove the dead flesh, Mr Hogg was horrified to see the damage.

He said: "I knew something was wrong but I had no idea how bad it was until I spoke with the surgeon. When he told me how close I had come to losing my leg I was stunned.

"It really hit home when they removed the bandages and I saw what was left of my leg - it resembled something from a horror film. They had been forced to cut away so much, I was devastated.

"However when I realised the extent of my injuries I realised I was just lucky to still have my leg - even if the sight of my leg shocked me when I finally saw it."

Mr Hogg has now been told he may need another operation after learning that the skin graft has not taken.

He has now launched legal action against the airline, Qatar Airways, which he says has refused to accept responsibility.

He said: "They have made no attempt to resolve the issue and have basically said it was nothing to do with them. All this has left me very traumatised but determined to seek justice.

"No one should have to go through what I have and if the airline has made a mistake it should take responsibility."

Richard Duxbury, from law firm Slater and Gordon, representing Mr Hogg, said: "Mr Hogg has suffered a harrowing experience after he was bitten by a very venomous spider. This situation could have been far worse, with Mr Hogg narrowly avoiding losing his leg and perhaps even his life.

"Airlines have a responsibility to protect passengers from dangerous potential pests by properly fumigating all planes. We will now be investigating Mr Hogg's claim to determine if there has been any wrongdoing by the airline."

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