Bed bug bites land backpacker in hospital

BED BUGS: British backpacker Sarah Swindell was forced seek medical advice after suffering severe bed bug bites. Photo taken on Wednesday, 10 December 2014. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail
BED BUGS: British backpacker Sarah Swindell was forced seek medical advice after suffering severe bed bug bites. Photo taken on Wednesday, 10 December 2014. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail Max Fleet

FOR two young English backpackers, Bundaberg was meant to be part of a trip of a lifetime as they travelled around Australia.

But while staying at Bundaberg Backpackers, on Wednesday they sought medical treatment at the Bundaberg Hospital for what they say the treating doctor said was the "worst case of bed bug bites she'd ever seen".

Sarah Swindell, 21, and Seonaid Dear, 20, left Bundaberg yesterday and would have left earlier if they had not paid for their accommodation.

The hostel declined to comment when it was approached by the NewsMail.

Miss Dear's bites became infected after she was bitten repeatedly during her three-and-a-half week stay, she said.

"It was so bad I had to get an antibiotic drip," she said. "It's disgusting and 'pussing', my ankle is so swollen I can hardly walk."

Miss Swindell and Miss Dear said the worst part of the experience was the response from the hostel owner when they tried to complain about the problem.

"He would yell and say I was lying and that my room didn't have bed bugs," Miss Dear said.

"He kept telling me it was hay fever."

On Wednesday, after a number complaints and broken promises by the owner that he would look at her room, Miss Swindell said her bed was checked.

"He lifted up the mattress and there was a nest of bed bugs," she said.

"I was disgusted to think I'd been sleeping on it.

"I've travelled to Thailand and I've stayed in dodgy places but I've never seen anything like this before."

With her back and arms covered in bites Miss Swindell claimed the bed bugs were so bad that each morning she could see them on her clothes.

"I get out of bed, shake my clothes and they fall on to the floor," she said.

Ms Swindell said it was disappointing because the hostel provided good connections to farms and found them work quickly, which paid well.

The hospital Bundaberg Hospital confirmed it treated a 20-year-old woman on Wednesday for insect bites.

Bundaberg Amalgamated Pest Control branch manager Keith Griffiths said his business would receive on average a request every six weeks to treat bed bugs across the region.

"We get calls from hotels, backpackers, private homes - I've even seen the problem in cars," Mr Griffiths said.

"It's a bit of a program, it can't just be treated once and expected to go away," he said.

"It's about a four-step program because you have to treat the eggs.

"You can pick it up when travelling on a bus or in a taxi and they get into your baggage and you bring them home."

Topics:  backpackers bundaberg editors picks hostel

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