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Rove beetles attack Ho Chi Minh City residential quarters

Wednesday, July 08, 2020, 13:47 GMT+7
Rove beetles attack Ho Chi Minh City residential quarters
A swarm of rove beetles is seen in a dormitory at the Vietnam National University-Ho Chi Minh City in Thu Duc District, Ho Chi Minh City in this supplied photo.

The rove beetle, a small, poisonous insect, is plaguing the lives of many residents in apartments and dormitories around Ho Chi Minh City, with thousands of people being treated for wounds.

Rove beetles do not bite people but cause a very painful chemical burn when their toxin comes into contact with the skin, according to Dr. Doan Binh Minh, deputy director of the Ho Chi Minh City Malaria – Parasite – Insect Institute.

Medical experts said rove beetles are present during rainy seasons and attracted to home lights as well as clothes, beds, sleeping mats, and blankets.

The overuse of pesticides in agriculture and urbanization in such suburban areas as District 9, District 7, Hoc Mon District, and Cu Chi District have gradually shrunk the habitat of insects in general and rove beetles in particular, forcing them to invade residential quarters, according to Minh.

Students staying in a dormitory at the Vietnam National University-Ho Chi Minh City in Thu Duc District have been worrying about the insect as they discovered many rove beetles in their rooms.

Many of the students in the dorm have sustained wounds caused by the poisonous insect.

Wounds caused by rove beetle toxin. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Wounds caused by rove beetle toxin. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tuoi Tre

The number of patients, including children and adults, being treated for wounds caused by rove beetles has also spiked.

According to the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital of Dermato Venereology, in recent days, some 100 patients come to the infirmary a day to seek treatment for allergic dermatitis resulting from contact with insects, mainly rove beetles.

Patients often have inflammation and blisters at certain or different body areas around their face, neck, hands, and legs, which are the body's normal reactions to the insect's venom, Dr. Vu Thi Phuong Thao at the dermatology hospital said.

She advised patients not to touch or squeeze the wounds in order not to spread the infection.

The rove beetle toxin is highly toxic, even more potent than that of a cobra, according to the General Department of Preventive Medicine under the Ministry of Health. 

Wounds caused by rove beetle toxin. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tuoi Tre

Wounds caused by rove beetle toxin. Photo: Chau Tuan / Tuoi Tre

If exposed to rove beetle toxins, people should wash their affected areas immediately with soap and water, and then use cold compresses, antihistamines, or apply aloe vera to alleviate symptoms, Dr. Thao said.

Severe skin reactions to the toxin should be reported to doctors.

As precautions, medical workers advise the public not to crush rove beetles if they are found inside the home, to avoid skin contact with them, but blow or use objects to remove the insects.

People should not leave their lights, particularly white lights, on when sleeping and should keep their windows closed at night to keep the insect out.

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