Cater­pil­lar sends tots to emer­gency room

Stanstead Journal - - NEWS - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Stanstead

Cater­pil­lars may be cute and fuzzy, how­ever, the Hick­ory Tus­sock Moth cater­pil­lar, which is ap­par­ently hav­ing a good year, is bet­ter left alone. A Stanstead mother found this out the hard way when her two daugh­ters, aged three and six, de­vel­oped wide­spread rashes soon af­ter han­dling one of the cater­pil­lars. “We were at my cousin’s in New­port for a BBQ when I saw my youngest hold­ing a white cater­pil­lar with a black stripe down its back. The next morn­ing both my daugh­ters had rashes from their knees to their waists, on the chest area and un­der the arms. My six year-old also found the rash itchy,” ex­plained Melissa Mid­dle­ton. Not tak­ing any chances es­pe­cially since she is preg­nant, Melissa brought her daugh­ters to the Coat­i­cook hos­pi­tal’s emer­gency room where they were mis­di­ag­nosed as hav­ing some kind of par­a­site. At the time she hadn’t con­nected the rash to the han­dling of the cater­pil­lar. “I was told that they had seen six other kids with spots that morn­ing,” added Melissa.

Per­haps not con­tent with the di­ag­no­sis, or maybe just a mother’s in­stinct kick­ing in, Melissa went to the in­ter­net where she, by co­in­ci­dence, learnt about the seem­ingly harm­less white and black cater­pil­lar, which now had a name, and of its poi­sonous qual­i­ties. “It was the same cater­pil­lar and the de­scrip­tion of the re­ac­tion to the cater­pil­lar was what had hap­pened to my daugh­ters,” said Melissa.

Familiprix phar­ma­cist Veronique Vail­lan­court has also come across the nasty lit­tle beast. “When a mem­ber of my fam­ily touched one they got a re­ac­tion not long af­ter so I called Info-Santé and they in­formed me about the cater­pil­lar. I had never heard of it be­fore last week and have never re­ceived any­thing from Santé Pub­lic about it.”

The Hick­ory Tus­sock Moth cater­pil­lar has hairs that cause trou­ble, es­pe­cially the longer black hairs which are hol­low tubes and con­nected to poi­son glands. Af­ter touch­ing the cater­pil­lar, most peo­ple will re­act with a burn­ing, itchy rash. The area af­fected should be washed with soap and water as soon as pos­si­ble and ice can be ap­plied to re­lieve dis­com­fort. Peo­ple more sen­si­tive may ex­pe­ri­ence swelling and nau­sea as well and may have to seek med­i­cal treat­ment.

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