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Spiders force library to close at the University of Michigan, officials say

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A University of Michigan library was closed after the discovery of three Mediterranean recluse spiders in a basement room. The species is potentially deadly. Screengrab from Google.

A library at the University of Michigan was closed for two days due to an “emergency maintenance issue.”

But it wasn’t frozen pipes or a leaky roof.

The discovery of Mediterranean recluse spiders in the Shapiro Undergraduate Library in late January forced the closure on Sunday and Monday, The Michigan Daily student newspaper reported.

Experts say the bite of a Mediterranean recluse spider can cause skin necrosis, or death of body tissue, and in rare cases can be fatal. In 2016, a 65-year-old woman in Italy died after she was bitten while cleaning a cellar at her home — the first case of a fatal recluse bite reported in Europe, researchers say.

An email to staff obtained by The Michigan Daily says pest management workers detected three of the spiders in a machine room.

The university identified the spiders after consulting experts at Michigan State University and the University of Michigan-Dearborn, a spokesperson told MLive. The university planned on reopening the library Tuesday after treating areas for spiders, the news outlet reported.

The spokesperson told MLive a “misunderstanding” prompted the closure, and based on the latest information, it was a mistake to close the building.

But university officials told WXYZ the library was closed “out of an abundance of caution.”

Chacour Koop is a Real-Time reporter based in Kansas City. Previously, he reported for the Associated Press, Galveston County Daily News and Daily Herald in Chicago.



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