Beware the Rove Beetle

Vietnam has seen an infestation of Rove Beetle.

DESCRIPTION:
The Rove Beetle presents with different colors and is small, (7mm to 1.2cm in length 2-3 mm wide). It has a black head with an orange thorax (immediately behind the head). The body is mostly black with a shiny metallic black area that conceals its folded wings and a distinct broad orange band towards the tapered tail. Also may appear as iridescent blue color.

The Rove beetle can be found at the edges of fields around grassed areas, near water and vegetable fields. They have also been found in homes in and around Hanoi.  Favorable conditions can lead to localized populations explosions for short periods. During daytime, the beetle will be seen crawling around the ground swiftly with hidden wings, resembling ants. At night the beetles are attracted to light sources and will fly and land on objects near the lights.

PUBLIC HEALTH IMPORTANCE:
The beetle contains a poisonous animal contact toxin that is released when crushed. If you crush the beetle the toxin is released and absorbed by your skin. The beetle can be crushed if you swat it like a mosquito or if it collides with you at speed (such as bare skin or on a motorbike) and can cause conjunctivitis, severe dermatitis and serious skin irritation.

Initial symptoms include reddening of the skin and a ‘burning sensation’, this is followed by painful irritation and itching with extensive pustules and blisters on the skin. The affected areas may remain irritated, blistered and sore for 10 days. Toxin on the hands can spread toxin to other areas of the body and other people.

PERSONAL PROTECTION:

Do not touch the beetles. Blow or wash beetles off your skin. Minimize lighting in infested areas at night. Wear long sleeved and long legged clothing to minimize exposed skin. Have bottles of soapy water handy for first aid and then use cold compresses, antihistamines or Aloe Vera to alleviate symptoms. Avoid secondary infections in blistered areas.

Seek medical attention for severe skin reactions to the toxin.

School Health Centre

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