Newly discovered European caterpillar causing havoc for Quebec doctors

Newly discovered European caterpillar causing havoc for Quebec doctors

A new species of caterpillar has arrived in Quebec and is causing problems for health professionals since the beginning of the summer. Some children have come close to dying after putting the insect in their mouth. The Processionary caterpillar has a very special feature that distinguishes it from others. It has stinging hairs particularly harmful to human and animal health.

The grey and orange caterpillar is popular in Europe and was probably brought here through luggage or cargo.

There have been three cases reported so far. Two patients were treated in Montreal, while the other was treated at a hospital in Quebec. The three children were affected in the same way, having put the caterpillar in their mouth while playing outdoors

The respiratory problems suffered by the victims were due to long orange hairs crossing the back of the esophagus track and staying in contact with the skin.

The hairs stick into the skin and lips releasing a toxic substance which causes respiratory problems and can also lead to swelling and itching.

The first case launched a research team to discover what exactly was causing the problem since the insect was not known in these parts until now.

Doctors were in a quandary at first, not knowing what to do and treating the children as if it were an allergy problem. The problem however was more serious than expected and the children had to be hospitalized for a few days, in addition to receiving strong cortisone treatments .

When a person comes into direct contact with the Processionary caterpillar once, the chances that it will react even worse the second time are very high.

To avoid any future incidents, it is suggested that all Quebecers inspect their land in early summer . The caterpillar is very similar to the common “tent worm” installing themselves in small shrubs or trees. The difference is in the colour. The Processionary has bright orange hairs growing down its back. When the insect turns into a butterfly there is no longer a problem.

……………………………………………………………….. Staff Writer

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