Shortness of breath and skin irritation: Injured children due to oak procession moth

Several injured students at Sportfest by oak procession moth

In Mülheim, North Rhine-Westphalia, several schoolchildren with shortness of breath and skin irritation or circulatory problems had to be treated medically. The symptoms were probably triggered by so-called oak procession moths.

Several students suffered from shortness of breath and skin irritation

On Tuesday, the emergency services of the Mülheim an der Ruhr fire department (North Rhine-Westphalia) were called for a medical emergency at a school's sports facility. According to a message from the fire department, there should be a child with circulatory problems. When the ambulance arrived, the situation was such that several children with shortness of breath and skin irritation were found. According to the information, the symptoms were probably triggered by so-called oak procession moths.

"Mass casualty"

As the fire brigade announced, the situation was classified as a "mass casualty" and a large number of emergency services were dispatched to the site.

The injured children were treated on site by emergency doctors. Three children were taken to the hospital. Six other children were handed over to the parents and teachers, with the advice to see their family doctor.

The entire sports facility was closed and the forestry and environmental authorities were informed about the attack by oak procession moths.

The sports festival had to be canceled.

Caterpillar hair contains a nettle poison

The oak processionary moth (Thaumetopoea processionea) is an inconspicuous gray-brown moth. The moth itself is harmless, but the offspring can be dangerous.

The caterpillars of the animals hatch - depending on the weather - in April or May and go through various stages of development and molting in several weeks.

The hairs of the caterpillars contain the nettle poison Thaumetopoein. They pose an acute health hazard to people.

Violent allergic reactions possible

According to experts, the fine stinging hair can be carried over long distances by favorable air currents.

According to the Lower Saxony State Health Office (NLGA), they can remain toxic for up to a year.

Skin contact or inhalation can lead to allergic symptoms.

"The allergic reaction of the immune system can vary widely," explains the Bavarian State Institute for Forests and Forestry (LWF) on its website.

"In affected people, the sensitivity and reaction intensity increases steadily with the number of individual contacts of oak procession spinner hairs," said the experts.

Typical symptoms include local rashes (caterpillar dermatitis), which are manifested in spot reddening of the skin, slight swelling, severe itching and burning.

In addition, wheals often form all over the body. "Irritation to the mouth and nasal mucosa through inhalation of the hair can lead to bronchitis, painful coughing and asthma," writes the LWF.

And: “Accompanying symptoms like dizziness, fever, fatigue and conjunctivitis occur. In individual cases, hypersensitive people tend to have allergic shock reactions. "

Shower and wash hair

After contact with the caterpillar hair, according to the NGLA, you should immediately change clothes, take a shower and wash your hair.

"Wash clothes at 60 ° C with plenty of water in order to destroy / rinse out the nettle poison on the caterpillar hair," said the experts.

And the Berlin Senate Department for Health, Nursing and Equal Opportunities on its website advises you to see a doctor if you experience symptoms.

"Don't be afraid! In the event of severe reactions such as shortness of breath or asthma, please call the emergency services, ”the authority warns. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


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