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Saturday, 04 July 2015

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'I nearly lost a finger to insect bite'

A FORMER Whitehaven head-teacher has nearly lost her finger following what is thought to be a “mutated’’ insect bite.

ONCE BITTEN... Nancy Monaghan and her injured finger

Nancy Monaghan was put in an isolation ward after a consultant who checked her poisoned finger said he “hadn’t seen anything like it in 20 years’’.

She spent three weeks in hospital and might still need a skin graft after the infection made her finger look like a “Cumberland sausage’’.

Nancy said: “I have been in agony. No-one knows what caused the injury but the medical staff thought it may have been an insect from abroad which had mutated.

“I was in my garden deadheading roses when the next thing I knew I had two long blisters. I sterilised them and let the fluid out, which was a mistake.’’

As her finger became increasingly swollen and infected, Nancy was taken to the West Cumberland Hospital where she was taken to theatre to treat the infection. “It was agony,’’ she said. “As soon as they cleaned it, the fluid would fill up again.

When her finger failed to heal, she was transferred to the Royal Victoria Infirmary, at Newcastle. “The consultant said he had never seen anything like it in 20 years. I was placed on an isolation ward as they tried to discover what the problem was,’’ she said.

Nancy was released from hospital last Friday, but needs her finger treated three times a week. She also has to make a return visit to Newcastle to keep a check on the infection.

“They thought I might lose my finger or the top of it,’’ she said. “My finger looked like a Cumberland sausage, it was terrible. I may still need a skin graft as I’ve lost all the skin on my finger due to the infection. It has been very painful but hopefully it will start to heal.

“After all I’ve been through, my advice to anyone doing the gardening is, wear gloves,’’ she added.

Florin Feneru, identification and advisory officer at The Natural History Museum, London, said: “The illness may have been caused by events prior to the lady working in the garden. It may have been caused by a reaction to a chemical she used to spray on her plants, or to an infection with a microbe.’’

He said it may also have been caused by a spider bite. “ There are plenty of native British spiders in gardens, and many of them can deliver a bite. I haven’t heard of such symptoms due to a spider bite, though.’’

Have your say

Both my partner & myself have been bitten by 'cleggs' (horseflies) and the areas have become infected & so badly swollen that hospital treatment was needed. My partners hand was so badly swollen it resembled a grapefruit. At the time there were several other cases being treated for the same thing. Apparently a horsefly can carry several nasty infections dependant upon what it has bitten previously. Sounds very similar to this case.

Posted by june on 7 October 2012 at 22:40

Could it possibly be a bite from a Brazilian wandering spider? They have a habit of stowing away in crates of bananas. They're also well known for being very aggressive and highly venomous (which would account for the swelling, and most spider venom is known to cause necrosis of the flesh). I've seen at least three in and around Whitehaven over the past 5 years, so it isn't entirely implausible to imagine that could be what's caused it.

Posted by Stephen M on 5 October 2012 at 11:38

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