A British holidaymaker nearly lost his leg after a flesh-eating spider attacked him in mid-air and left his limb black and bursting open, a UK tabloid paper has reported.
Jonathan Hogg was told by doctors he could have died after he was bitten by a poisonous brown recluse spider during flight between Qatar and South Africa.
The 40-year-old barrister's leg was "bursting open" by the time he made it to hospital, Daily Star said, adding that Hogg is seeking legal action against the airline.
"The pain was like nothing I've been through in my life. 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,” he said.
Hogg believes the bite happened six hours into a flight from Doha to Cape Town. After he felt a pain in his leg he saw a spider running across the plane's floor.
He added: "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.
"I turned on the light and clearly saw a spider running across the floor before hearing two stewardesses screaming 'Spider.”
As his leg swelled and became bruised he took painkillers because he thought it might be deep-vein thrombosis. It was only when colleagues said it could be a spider bite that Hogg linked the two events.
Doctors in Cape Town diagnosed a bite from a brown recluse spider, which is venomous and potentially fatal. An operation was needed to remove dead flesh.
"I knew something was wrong but I had no idea how bad it was until I spoke with the surgeon....when he told me how close I had come to losing my leg I was stunned…it really hit home when they removed the bandages and I saw what was left of my leg."
Daily Star said Hogg has now launched legal action against the airline – Qatar Airways – which he claims has refused to accept responsibility.
"No one should have to go through what I have and if the airline has made a mistake it should take responsibility,” Hogg said.
A Qatar Airways spokesperson told Daily Star Online the airline was unaware of any legal proceedings.
The spokesperson said: "The only known interaction between the airline and Mr Hogg regarding this incident, which he claims happened on a Qatar Airways aircraft in June, was via our website a week after his travel was complete.
"No report was filed with any staff on board regarding this incident. Qatar Airways takes the safety and security of our customers very seriously."