Odds and Ends: Hospital closes to fumigate for poisonous spiders, eggs

By The Associated Press

SYDNEY, Australia – 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.

‘Beautiful Bulldog’ winner excels at snoring, sleeping

DES MOINES, Iowa – Buddy is a sleeping beauty: Reddish brown, He’s usually asleep on his back, snoring loudly with his large tongue lolling out.

He was wide-awake Monday, though, when he was crowned winner of a “Beautiful Bulldog” contest.

“He doesn’t have a good stamina to him … he’s been laying around all winter,” said George DuBois from Ankeny, Iowa, who owns Buddy with his wife, Cindy.

“Just in the last 10, 15 days we’ve done some walking. We’ve been getting in shape for this.”

The DuBois’ 3-year-old dog was among 50 bulldogs from mostly Midwestern states who came to compete. The beauty contest honors Drake University’s mascot and one of the events leading up to the Drake Relays, one of the nation’s oldest and prestigious track and field competitions.

“I’m so excited. I didn’t think he had what it took to get it,” said Cindy DuBois. “His mom is back home and she won’t know what to think when he comes home with all this good stuff.”

Buddy competed unadorned, unlike many of his rivals. They dressed up as fairy princesses, rock stars, cheerleaders, bumblebees and even Snow White and Mr. T.

Bella Star of Elmwood, Ill., had her nails painted red and wore a Hawaiian lei, pink bikini top and a grass skirt. The skirt slipped off as she strutted down the “dogwalk” before the judges.

“We felt this best represented her personality,” said owner Amanda Price. “She’s very fun-loving, high-spirited.”

Buddy panted heavily as he sat on his throne, getting used to his new crown and cape as photographers snapped his picture. On Saturday, he’ll ride in a golf cart at Drake Stadium before about 18,000 spectators.

“I don’t think he really wants attention all that much … he wants to be with people,” said George DuBois. “He’s just a rascal.”