UK holidaymakers are being warned to be vigilant about poisonous spiders in the South of France.
The warning comes after two women were hospitalised following bites by fiddleback spiders, also known as brown recluse spiders, in Montpellier.
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The spiders inject a venom that causes the death of skin cells, called necrosis, which sometimes has to be removed by surgeons to stop it from spreading.
Victims can develop a gangreonous ulcer that destroys soft tissue and can take months to heal.
Speaking to the Mirror, Guillaume Mardin, a French spider expert, said: "These insects are now more common in France as they are moving north through Europe possibly due to climate change.
"The best advice for people in the warmest and driest areas in the south is to shake out clothes before putting them on, and check your bedding before sleeping.
"The bites are painful and need swift medical attention but are very rarely fatal unless left untreated."
Fiddleback spiders, which range in size from between six and 20 millimetres, are not generally aggressive and only bite when pressed against the skin, when hidden in clothes for example.
However, back in July 2009, one man in Vaucluse, France, almost died after being bitten by a brown recluse spider.
François Inderchit rolled on the spider while in bed, and within 24 hours a gangrenous wound six inches long and three inches wide had developed around the bite on the right bicep, reported the Daily Telegraph.
He was also suffering with a high fever, vomiting and convulsions.
Doctors said if it had been left untreated for another two hours, he would have died.
Doctor Jean-Michel Bruere from the Louis Giorgi hospital in Orange told the paper: "This is the only case of its kind I've seen in my career."
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