Mum nearly died when poison from spider bite tracked down her leg triggering killer sepsis

A BRITISH mum says she's lucky to be alive after contracting sepsis from a spider bite.

Rebecca Matthews-Johnson, 40, noticed a bite mark on her right leg following an evening sitting in her garden in Bassetlaw, Nottinghamshire, but thought nothing of it.

However, just 72 hours later, the healthcare worker was in the grips of a horrific fever – and told her son she thought she was going to die.

As her leg swelled and turned bright red, she dashed to Bassetlaw District General Hospital where doctors immediately discovered that she had the signs of early onset sepsis.

She said: "If I hadn't gone in when I had it could have been curtains potentially.

"I would have been a much worse scenario. It was the worst I've ever felt in my life.

"I'd felt worse and worse over the course of that week. On the Wednesday night I felt terrible and feverish, the sweat was just pouring off me.

"I told my son on the day I went to hospital, 'I think I'm going to die'.

"He just laughed. I knew something was wrong, I couldn't put my finger on it though.

"Overall, I feel very lucky, it could have been a lot worse."

Rebecca believes she was bitten on July 13 while spending a sunny Saturday afternoon sitting in the garden with her husband Dave, 42.


Symptoms of sepsis

If you, a loved one, or in the case of medical professionals their patient, feels "severely sick", doesn't appear to be themselves and shows any of the following symptoms, sepsis should be suspected:

  • weakness
  • loss of appetite
  • fever and chills
  • thirst
  • difficult or rapid breathing
  • rapid heart rate
  • low blood pressure
  • low urine output

If a person is suffering these symptoms and they are thought to have suffered an infection – pneumonia, abdominal infection, urinary infection, or a wound – sepsis is a likely cause.

And after just a few days she began to fell unwell and noticed that the skin on her right leg near the bite mark felt itchy and was slowly turning bright red in colour.

Despite this, she dismissed the symptoms as a minor bug and visited her GP who proscribed her some antibiotics, which she said didn't work.

She added: "I still felt really terrible, the bite went black and started to abscess. The poison spread from my knee right down to the bottom of my leg.

"I only went to the hospital when I had a gut feeling I was going to die, it was that bad."

At that point, Rebecca was starting to become forgetful and had developed fever and chills.

She said: "I told the nurse my symptoms, they came in, took my temperature and checked me out. They quickly hooked me up to intravenous drugs and fluids."

Rebecca had a temperature of 40C and a heart-rate of 122 while in the grips of a major bacterial infection and the early stages of sepsis.


She had surgery on the abscess and spent two weeks recovering from a severe bacterial infection.

And she said the one of the nurses told her that if she had not admitted herself into hospital sooner when she did, she would would have developed full blown sepsis.

Rebecca, who is now back to work after her nightmare ordeal, added: "The hospital were absolutely fantastic, they were so quick and without them it could have been a different story.

"For anyone else feeling unwell I'd say don't leave it as long as I did.

"Go and get medical attention, it's not worth the risk.


"My family could of been facing a future without me.

"Or I could of been facing my life having had my leg amputated.

"I consider myself to be very lucky. I'm just glad I'm alive and I've still got my leg."

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