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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 September, 2004, 17:30 GMT 18:30 UK
Exotic spider fears close school
A spider
It is not yet known what type of spider is in the school
An exotic spider on the prowl in a Berkshire primary school forced it to close its doors on Tuesday.

About 350 pupils were told to stay at home after an unusual-looking spider was found in Whitelands Park Primary School in Thatcham.

The eight-legged creature crawled from a set of drums brought from Senegal for a music workshop.

Pest control experts brought in by the education authority to fumigate the school buildings.

The fumigators hoped to flush out the speckled brown spider - said to be as big as an adult's palm.

'Nasty reaction'

Keith Ulyatt, spokesman for West Berkshire Council, said: "It was spotted by a classroom assistant yesterday, but as she turned her back to get a container to trap it, the spider ran off.

"The school may smell a bit funny but the chemicals used are completely safe for humans - just not for spiders."

He added the decision to fumigate the school was taken as a precaution.

Experts at London Zoo said it was probably a tropical house spider, which can cause a "nasty reaction" with its bite.

The school will reopen on Wednesday.

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