Not to long ago, I updated a hoax about killer South American spiders that were allegeldy infesting airplanes as well as a certain restaurant in Chicago. That very same hoax has now mutated, and shows all the signs of becoming a truly enduring urban legend. You can read about the original hoax here; to learn about the new one, keep reading this page.
Here’s the new hoax:
Date Captured: January 19, 2003
This is not a joke.
WARNING: From the University of North Florida
An article by Dr. Beverly Clark, in the Journal of the United Medical Association (JUMA), the mystery behind a recent spate of deaths has been solved. If you haven’t already heard about it in the news, here is what happened.
Three women in North Florida, turned up at hospitals over a 5-day period, all with the same symptoms. Fever, chills, and vomiting, followed by muscular collapse, paralysis, and finally, death. There were no outward signs of trauma. Autopsy results showed toxicity in the blood.
These women did not know each other, and seemed to have nothing in common. It was discovered, however, that they had all visited the same restaurant (Olive Garden) within days of their deaths. The health department descended on the restaurant, shutting it down. The food, water, and air conditioning were all inspected and tested, to no avail.
The big break came when a waitress at the restaurant was rushed to the hospital with similar symptoms. She told doctors that she had been on vacation, and had only went to the restaurant to pick up her check. She did not eat or drink while she was there, but had used the restroom.
That is when one toxicologist, remembering an article he had read, drove out to the restaurant, went into the restroom, and lifted the toilet seat.
Under the seat, out of normal view, was a small spider. The spider was captured and brought back to the lab, where it was determined to be the Two-Striped Telamonia (Telamonia dimidiata), so named because of its reddened flesh color. This spider’s venom is extremely toxic, but can take several days to take effect. They live in cold, dark, damp, climates, and toilet rims provide just the right atmosphere.
Several days later a lawyer from Jacksonville showed up at a hospital emergency room. Before his death, he told the doctor, that he had been away on business, had taken a flight from Indonesia, changing planes in Singapore, before returning home. He did not visit (Olive Garden), while there. He did, as did all of the other victims, have what was determined to be a puncture wound, on his right buttock.
Investigators discovered that the flight he was on had originated in India. The Civilian Aeronautics Board (CAB) ordered an immediate inspection of the toilets of all flights from India, and discovered the Two-Striped Telamonia (Telamonia dimidiata) spider’s nests on 4 different planes!
It is now believed that these spiders can be anywhere in the country.
So please, before you use a public toilet, lift the seat to check for spiders. It can save your life! And please pass this on to everyone you care about
This hoax is almost identical to the original — in both, spiders from a far off country hitch a ride on airplanes, kill a lawyer (score one for the spiders) and then proceed to infest an American restaurant.
This time around though, the details are different. The restaurant of doom in the original was “Big Chappies” at the fictional “Blair Airport” in Chicago, this time around it’s an Olive Garden.
While there are still three women, they are bitten in North Florida instead of Chicago. While the original spider was called the “South American Blush Spider (arachnius gluteus), this was perhaps too much of a giveaway, so the new hoaxer changed the name to “Two-Striped Telamonia” (which is apparently a real spider, at least according to this Web site). And while this foul arachnid originated from South America in the original, this time around the blame rests with India.
While the names may have been changed to confuse the innocent, the facts remain the same: this is a hoax.
You can learn more by reading these debunkings: