How a spider bite could lead to an infection if left untreated is one of the reasons why so many people in Australia are now worried about the spread of bed bugs, the ABC has learned.
The ABC has obtained an urgent message from the Queensland Government to residents warning of a new bed spider disease, the most severe of the many bed-borne diseases that have been detected in Queensland.
The warning comes as Queensland Health’s emergency response teams and the state’s National Centre of Disease Control and Prevention continue their work to contain the spread.
Queensland Health says the disease is believed to be caused by a new species of bed spider found in Queensland, but it is not yet clear whether the bed spiders are linked to the current outbreak.
Queenas Health has confirmed that three people in the city of Brisbane have contracted the bed spider infection, which can cause fever, joint pain, muscle pain and a rash.
Health officials are urging anyone who is bitten to immediately seek medical attention.
The number of confirmed cases of the disease has risen to 14, and Queensland Health says there is no indication of a causal link to the Queensland outbreak.
“The bed spider is a unique and unusual spider that is often found in homes and is typically harmless, but when it gets into a home, it can cause a significant problem,” Queensland Health Chief Medical Officer Professor Michael Cairns said.
“Bed spider bites are rare, so people are not likely to be able to identify the spider that caused the problem in their home.”
But if they do, we would like to make sure that they get immediate medical attention and treated as quickly as possible.
“If they can’t be identified and treated, the risk of infection increases.”
The state has also warned of bed-bug outbreaks in Townsville and Ipswich, as well as a bed-spider infestation in Brisbane.
The bed-swinging spiders are known as spider mites, and they are native to Asia and Africa.
They have no natural home in Queensland and are known to live in the soil, in furniture and other household items.
It is believed that the Queensland bed-mites are spreading by taking advantage of the spread in Australia of a bed bug vaccine that was made by Australian companies.
The Queensland Government says the vaccine was not tested in Queensland in 2018 and it is now up to the company, Thermo Fisher Scientific, to ensure the vaccines are safe.
“We can assure you that there are no human or animal health risks in the Queensland vaccination programme and we are working with Thermo to ensure that the vaccines remain safe,” Mr Cairn said.
The outbreak in Queensland is the most serious since Queensland was declared a bedbug-free state in August 2018.