Cutaneous and Other Reactions to the Processionary Caterpillar (Thaumetopoea Pityocampa)
Pine caterpillar, Thaumetopoea pityocampa, is a phyto-lepidopteran, responsible for the delay in the growth or the death of various types of pine trees. Besides nature damage, pine caterpillar causes dermatological reactions in humans by contact with the irritating hairs of the larvae. Although dermatitis occurs among outdoor professionals, it is primarily non-professional. Means of contamination comprise direct contact with the nest or the processional caterpillar and indirect contact with air dispersed hairs. Dermatitis is generally observed in late spring and particularly from March to June, among campers and tourers. The eruption has its onset 1-12 hours after contact with the hairs and presents with intense and continuous itching. Apart from the skin, T. pityocampa can involve the eyes and rarely the airways. Despite the considerable damages to humans and nature, pine caterpillar infestation is an underestimated problem; medical literature lists few studies and, often, relevant information is referred to local media and popular wisdom.
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