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 world
So please, before you use a public toilet, lift the seat to check for spiders. It can save your life!
Question: Right after seeing the movie Snakes on a Plane, I got an email warning that spiders called the Telamonia dimidiata were found under an airplane toilet seat on a flight from India, and they had killed several people on the plane. Is this true or just another hoax?
Answer: It's a hoax. This urban legend seems to have originated about seven years ago.
The initial email hoax involving the story was easily recognized as a fake because the spider species in the story was fictitious (arachnius gluteus), so it was easy to disprove.
Of course, those who propagate urban legends can't let a "good" story die, so they had to do something about the believability factor.
To make the story more credible, the story was rewritten to include an actual spider species, Telamonia dimidiata. The story also now mentions a medical journal (Journal of the United Medical Association) where this incident supposedly was reported, but this medical journal doesn't exist.
The two most common current versions of this story are: 1. the Telamonia dimidiata spiders are appearing in North Florida and came from airplanes from India; and 2. the spiders are from South America and were found hiding under toilet seats in a restaurant in Chicago's (nonexistent) Blaire Airport.
Many of the current emails also often mention the Civilian Aeronautics Board (CAB), which never existed. The similar sounding Civil Aeronautics Board was abolished in 1984.
While it's not unheard of for spiders to take up residence in a public bathroom, toilet seats themselves are not a habitat of choice, and the disinfectants used to clean airplane toilets would probably displace them shortly.
Perhaps the only true part of the story is that the Telamonia dimidiata is a real species of spider from Indonesia and India, but its venom is harmless.
So, although there are many legitimate concerns regarding airplane travel, finding deadly Telamonia dimidiata spiders under the toilet seats is definitely a low priority worry. ;-)