Austria gripped by fear of spider

A spider with a painful but not life-threatening bite has spread alarm through Austria in the past two weeks.

Bites from the yellow sack spider, which is up to 1.6cm (0.6in) long, were reported in several parts of Austria. The reports prompted 190 people to visit the main hospital in Linz - but only eight had possible symptoms.

A doctor at Vienna’s main hospital, Dieter Gruber, told the BBC it was a “wave of hysteria”, saying hundreds of callers had asked about the spider. In an effort to ease public anxiety, Health Minister Maria Rauch- Kallat said “the bites of a yellow sack spider are indeed painful but not deadly”.

Austrian media have devoted much coverage to the spider - the Dornfingerspinne in German - with experts giving details about its behavior and habitat. They say Europe has more venomous spiders to worry about, such as the Black Widow.

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