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Passenger sues Qatar Airways following spider bite

Encounter with a venomous spider on board resulted in the passenger undergoing three operations and a skin graft.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

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A British barrister is suing Qatar Airways after he was bitten by a venomous spider on board one of its flights from Doha to South Africa.

Jonathon Hogg, 40, told UK media how his leg “burst open” after he was bitten by a deadly brown recluse spider.

“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,” Hogg told the Daily Mail.

“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.”

His leg ballooned in size within minutes, and by the time he reached the hospital in Cape Town, his leg had turned black. Surgeons, attempting to save his limb, discovered that the venom from the spider began to eat away at the flesh on his leg.

“The pain was like nothing I’ve been through in my life,” Hogg said. “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.”

Hogg, from Camden in North London, spent a month in hospital in South Africa where he underwent three operations and a skin graft. He has recently been told he may need another graft after the first one has not taken.

Three months later, the barrister is still receiving treatment. He has developed a fear of flying and said he doesn’t know if he’ll be able to resume his kickboxing hobby.

Hogg told the newspaper that he has launched legal action against the Doha-based airline, which he said has refused to accept responsibility.

“They have made no attempt to resolve the issue and have basically said it was nothing to do with them,” he said.

“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 Hogg, said: “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.”

Qatar Airways has been contacted for comment.

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