E-mail hoax: Scary ‘deadly spider in the loo’ tale isn’t true

2008-10-24 00:00

Three women and an American lawyer “died” after becoming entangled in the World Wide Web.

According to a hoax e-mail currently doing the rounds, the victims were bitten by spiders hiding in public toilets.

The local version of the e-mail, which arrives under the banner of the South African Medical Association with the headline “Really terrifying”, warns that three women succumbed to the same symptoms — fever, chills, vomiting, muscular collapse and paralysis — after visiting the Olive Garden, a restaurant in the Western Cape.

The cause of death was a mystery until a savvy toxicologist took to inspecting loos and fished out a Two-Striped Telamonia, a venomous spider whose toxin takes a few days to take effect.

According to the e-mail, these spiders live in damp climates and toilet rims are a particular favourite.

The fourth victim, a lawyer from Jackson in the U.S., had “a puncture wound on his right buttock”. His fate was apparently sealed in an airline toilet on a flight from India.

According to www.snopes.com, which seeks to debunk urban myths and hoaxes, the spider legend originated in Chicago in 1999, but was rejuvenated in 2002 when the spiders relocated to Florida and again in 2003 when they headed for Pennsylvania. Mid-way, the origin of the aeroplanes colonised by the spiders changed from South America to India and the fictitious South American Blush Spider (Arachinius gluteus) became the Telamonia dimidiata, a real but harmless arachnid from India.

According to Snopes, the author of the original spider hoax eventually owned up.

He filled the message with obvious inaccuracies so that the slightest check would reveal it was a hoax and sent it out to show how gullible people are and how they carelessly tend to forward messages without checking.

Overall, the still anonymous author wanted to illustrate the power of the Internet when spreading information.

The website’s final conclusion is that although some spiders prefer dark cool places and can sometimes be found under toilets seats (mostly outdoors), an airline toilet is “a particularly inhospitable abode for a spider” thanks to the chemicals used.

“Of all the precautions you might want to take while travelling by air, checking under the toilet rim for spiders should be given a very low priority,” it advises.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.