Invasion of the fake news spiders!

Latvia's State Health Inspectorate has told the public there is no risk to the public from an invasion of poisonous spiders, despite the appearance of official-looking posters at public transport stops in Rīga warning them about just such a threat with the worrying message: "Attention! Poisonous spiders!"

"We draw attention to the fact that the information displayed about spiders in public areas is false and the Health inspectorate has not released any such information," the public health agency said via social media July 30.

The posters in question feature a large picture of an unfriendly looking arachnid and a warning that due to climate change they are now not only rampant in Latvia but poisonous, too. There is also the number of the emergency services displayed prominently, suggesting members of the public should call if they spot any of the eight-legged fiends.

Clearly, this has the potential to waste the emergency services' time and resources.

Who produced the posters and for what purpose remains unclear.

The State Health Inspectorate has contacted the police about the incident said agency representative Elīna Šķēle.

Deliberate dissemination of information about a false event or a deliberate staging of a false event, as a result of which fire and rescue, police, emergency medical services or other special services are involved in the response can attract a fine of EUR 35 to EUR 210 for individuals, and for legal entities from EUR 700 to 7000.

Police ask residents to report on places where posters are hung, and provide any information that could help identify those behind the hoax by calling 67037811 or 110.

Moreover, leading researcher at the University of Latvia, Voldemars Spungis, explains that "one can immediately see that the poster was made by a person who is not oriented to entomology or is intentionally deceiving [the public]." 

According to Spungis the spider on the poster has the Latin name "Tegenaria Agrestis" and is not harmful to humans at all.

"They do no harm, but they do good, namely, freeing a house from insects," said the specialist.

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