Spider Plague Closes Australian Hospital

(AP) A tiny Australian hospital is closing temporarily because of an infestation of poisonous spiders.

The Baralaba Multi Purpose Health Service will close for 24 hours starting Thursday morning so officials can fumigate the building to get rid of redback spiders that have been found in large numbers in the main part of the hospital.

Three or four patients will need to be moved to another hospital while the building is closed, according to a statement from Queensland state health officials.

Redback spiders, common throughout most of the country, have a painful bite and a toxic venom, although an anti-venom is available.

The statement said warm weather had caused more redback spider eggs to hatch than usual.

"We believe the best way to deal with them, and the safest option for staff and patients, is to have the whole building fumigated so both the spiders and their eggs are killed," Ellen Palmer, rural director of nursing, said in the statement Wednesday.

Nearly 300 people live in Baralaba, about 320 kilometers (200 miles) northwest of Brisbane.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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