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Worm poisoning, what to do?

Maria Fernanda
5 min read

Poisoning is the act of poisoning, specifically, it is a bite. In the case of worm poisoning, it occurs due to the substance (poison) that comes out of their hairs.

This accident can occur almost anywhere, since the habitat of the worms is worldwide. For this reason, it is important to know what to do in this situation.

What are Lepidoptera?

They are a group of holometabolic insects, which means that they go through different phases during their development, the egg, larva, pupal and adult phases.

Worm poisoning, what to do? – Wellness and Health – WebMediums

The larvae that correspond to the caterpillar have specific characteristics such as, for example, they feed on certain plants.

Likewise, they have glands that they used to create silk threads and to be able to hold on, also, this thread has other functions.

What are the most common worm poisonings?

Not all worms can cause a reaction in the body, but there are specific genera that can trigger acute hematological problems, such as hemorrhage.

In this sense, the most frequent worms are Megalopyge opercularis and Lonomia achelous. Each one has different characteristics, but the clinical picture they cause is similar.

Megalopyge opercularis

You may not know them by this name, but as a stuffed caterpillar, chick caterpillar, cat moth, woolly cat, among other names.

If you have ever seen it, then you will understand the reason for the name. It is a hairy caterpillar with yellow and gold tones. The important thing about these species is that it is the most dangerous in the world.

Worm poisoning, what to do? – Wellness and Health – WebMediums
Caterpillar Megalopyge opercularis

In turn, underneath all the ornament it has, it has a set of thorns, which are responsible for administering the poison when it comes into contact with a person's skin.

How is the substance of Megalopyge opercularis composed?

The main substance of the substance that comes out of its spines is a protein called Thaumatopenia.

What happens with this protein is that it will induce mast cells, cells in the body, to release histamine. Histamine is responsible for the acute inflammation response.

At the same time, symptoms of pain, redness of the affected area, itching, among others, appear.

What happens in people who are hypersensitive?

However, in people who are hypersensitive to foreign substances, that is, that the reaction triggered an exaggerated response to histamine.

Worm poisoning, what to do? – Wellness and Health – WebMediums
Allergic reaction

In these cases, the protein of the caterpillar generates an anaphylactic reaction, which compromises the life of the person if it is not acted on time.

Which is the treatment?

Basically, it consists of general measures, for the most serious cases the measures are more exhaustive. Thus, the general measures are.

  • Remove the spines with the help of a forceps. Also, you can use duct tape.

  • Rinse with plenty of cold water.

In cases where the allergic reaction is more pronounced, the use of antihistamines is necessary, but if it is an anaphylactic reaction, the treatment of choice is the administration of adrenaline.

Lonomia achelous

Another is the worm known as the Guiana worm, it is the Lonomia achelous.

This worm is the ancestor of a butterfly that prevails at night.

The clinical relevance of this caterpillar is a severe hemorrhagic syndrome. This pathological picture is caused by the following species.

  • Lonomia achelous

  • Lonomia diabolous

  • Lonomia obliqua

Worm poisoning, what to do? – Wellness and Health – WebMediums
Lonomia achelous

All genres are distributed in countries of South America. On the other hand, Lonomia achelous is found in French Guiana, Colombia, and Venezuela.

Likewise, the Lonomia diabolous is found in Brazil, like the Lonomia obliqua.

Caterpillars are usually on tree trunks, usually grouped in colonies.

How does the caterpillar harm the body?

What causes damage to the body is not the caterpillar itself, but its poison.

This toxic substance is present in the villi that cover the caterpillar's frame.

When a person has contact with these hairs, it causes an inflammatory response up to a massive hemorrhage.

In addition, the venom generates fibrinolysis, this is the breakdown of fibrin, a component of blood clotting.

By degrading the fibrin, the formation of thrombi is prevented, but if it is excessive, the blood manages to clot.

Also, the venom has both coagulation and anticoagulation properties, the main toxins being the following.

  • Lonomin II

  • Lonomin III

  • Lonomin IV

  • Lonomin V

  • Lonomin VI

  • Lonomin VII

Worm poisoning, what to do? – Wellness and Health – WebMediums

What are the symptoms that can occur?

  • Erucism. It is nothing more than the inflammation and irritation of the skin (dermatitis) that is specifically caused by a caterpillar. It may be accompanied by itching.

This reaction is caused by the hairs of the caterpillar on the skin of the person.

  • Lepidopterism. Symptoms appear that are not local, but systemic, such as headache, nausea, vomiting, and shortness of breath.

  • Chondrolimiasis It is the joint pain generated by exposure to the poison.

  • Conjunctivitis

  • Coagulopathies. It is the most frequent and most fatal condition caused by caterpillar venom.

Which is the treatment?

The main thing that you have to do in the face of being poisoned by Lonomia and the person begins to present bleeding is to go to a health center.

Keep in mind, that bleeding does not occur at the moment of poisoning, but can happen two or three days after exposure.

Worm poisoning, what to do? – Wellness and Health – WebMediums

The picture begins with a headache, then after 48 or 72 hours hemorrhages appear, which can manifest as gingivorrhagia, ecchymosis or bleeding through any natural orifice in the body.

Treatment consists of hospitalization, suspension of oral feeding, removing the spines, antihistamines, it all depends on the symptoms that occur.

Is there an antidote?

The answer is yes. Antilonomic serum is a sensitized equine immunoglobulin. This antidote is administered depending on the severity.

However, if you do not have the antidote, other options are cryoprecipitates. It consists of a concentrate that contains fibrinogen and other clotting factors.