Aussie nurse warns against highly venomous Bali beetle: ‘Seek treatment right away’

A woman fears she was bitten by a tomcat beetle in Bali and is covered in blisters.

WARNING—GRAPHIC CONTENT: Stephanie Moody was holidaying with her family in Bali when she noticed red rashes on her body that now feel like "someone has burned [her] skin".

The Mudgee nurse told Yahoo News Australia she could see the venomous tomcat beetles "everywhere" in Ubud, but "didn’t think anything of it".

"Our hotel was in the middle of the jungle and I didn’t feel it happen at all," she said. "We went to the monkey forrest, rice fields and all that stuff you do when you’re in Ubud."

Two photos of the rashes Stephanie Moody picked up from tomcat beetles in Bali. The first photo shows the large rashes on the side of her leg, with a blister. In the second photo, the blister has popped.
Stephanie Moody was with her son and husband in Bali when she picked up a nasty rash that got worse overtime. Source: Supplied

"We then travelled to Kuta for the end of the holiday, and I noticed these big red welts on my side. At first I was thinking ‘oh maybe I missed sunscreen’ because it looked like a little sunburn."

Ms Moody said she "was not worried at all" but within four days, the rash had transformed into something that "was bad".

"It went from being red to little blistering dots to becoming a big yellow oozing blister that they had to pop, and give me a huge dressing down my side. The yellow bit looked like a balloon. Now it's so sore, I feel like someone's burned my skin. And it's not getting better by any means."

Dr Swaid Abdullah, an expert in Veterinary Parasitology, previously told Yahoo News Australia that the injuries would've not been inflicted by a bite or sting, rather from the beetles crawling on skin, clothes, bedding or towels.

A photo of Rove beetles, more commonly known as Tomcats, that carry toxic venom than cause a skin irritation called Paederus dermatitis.
Rove beetles, more commonly known as Tomcats, carry toxic venom than cause a skin irritation called Paederus dermatitis. Source: Wikipedia

'The doctor said it can spread'

Ms Moody said she was "very lucky" the Hard Rock Hotel she was staying at in Kuta had a doctor's office.

"I don’t know for sure if it was from Bali belly or the bugs but I was very sick, I was vomiting, very dehydrated, had a fever," she said.

"Within 10 minutes they had a doctor there and she looked at it and said ‘yes this is definitely from a tomcat beetle’. "She said ‘I saw this little girl who had the exact same thing the other day but she had touched it and then other areas of her body, and it spread all down her legs'.

"She gave me some IV antibiotics and took really good care of me. I ended up flying back to Australia that night at 9pm.

'Seek treatment right away'

The doctor told the woman the tomcat beetles come around during the wet season as the bugs "like moisture", and are "most common around rice fields".

"I want people to know that you should seek treatment right away and not touch it as the doctor said it can spread," Ms Moody said. "I don’t think people realise how bad it can get."

A photo of Stephanie, posing with her son, husband and a monkey in the Ubud Monkey Forest.
The nurse believes she got the rash from the tomcat beetle in Ubud, Bali. Source: Supplied

"Within 24 hours if I had gone on a flight and not done anything about it, she said it could’ve gone way worse.

"It's a blessing in disguise that it got bad on the last day but the plane ride was not very pleasant. That day was awful."

The doctor told her to immediately seek medical treatment if the the rashes increase in size or become more painful. "I'm back at work and when I put underwear on, it broke one of my blisters, so it's really sore. It’s not getting any bigger so I'm really hoping it doesn’t scar. Everybody is saying it scars for a long time."

Ms Moody said she will be going for a medical check-up soon.

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