There was a redback on the … vending machine?

Just when you thought it was safe to buy a can of coffee…

From the Mainichi:

Man hospitalized after being bitten by redback spider hiding in vending machine

A redback spider (photo courtesy of the Fukuoka Municipal Government)
A redback spider (photo courtesy of the Fukuoka Municipal Government)

FUKUOKA — A man in his 30s was taken to hospital on Jan. 21 after being bitten by what is believed to be a redback spider while picking up a canned coffee from a vending machine at a park here, the Fukuoka Municipal Government announced on Jan. 22.

The man is suffering from headaches and nausea, but the spider bite is not life-threatening, the municipal government said. The incident prompted the local government to urge people not to touch redback spiders or other suspicious spiders with their bare hands. The man was bitten by the spider at Maizuru Park in Fukuoka’s Chuo Ward.

In September 2012, an 86-year-old woman from Fukuoka’s Higashi Ward was taken to hospital after being bitten by a redback spider.

According to the public health department at the Fukuoka Municipal Government, at about 12:30 p.m. on Jan. 21, the man bought a canned coffee from a vending machine near a parking lot in Maizuru Park. When he pulled his hand from a slot of the vending machine, the spider crawled up through his right sleeve and bit his forearm, it said. About two hours later he called for an ambulance because he started to feel acute pain and nausea.

In collaboration with the company that installed the vending machine, the Fukuoka Municipal Government looked around for spiders in the area on Jan. 21 and 22, but they could not find any of the creatures.

A spokesperson for the company that installed the vending machine said, “We check to make sure that bugs and the like do not enter the machine when we bring in products. Because they are food products, we cannot use insecticides. Therefore, we can’t take any further measures.”

The redback spider is endemic to Australia, and there has been a sharp rise in the number of cases of people being bitten by redback spiders in Japan since around 2006. The cumulative number of reported cases of redback bites until last year stood at about 65 in Osaka Prefecture and one each in Aichi and Fukuoka prefectures.

January 23, 2013(Mainichi Japan)

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