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Schools had to be vacated due to oak procession spinners
Oak procession moths initially seem like harmless caterpillars, but they can also be dangerous to humans. This makes clear the eviction and temporary closure of two schools in a small town in Baden-Württemberg. Around 40 children had developed conspicuous complaints here, which were associated with oak procession spinners, the hairs of which release nettle poison on contact.
Two schools cleared twice
Caterpillars of the oak processionary spinner at the Schillerschule and Max Planck Realschule in Bretten near Karlsruhe (Baden-Württemberg) made sure twice that the schools had to be evacuated within a few days. Around 700 students had to leave the building. According to a statement from the city, around 40 children showed mild to moderate allergic reactions on Monday, which are attributable to the animals. Four passed out. The young patients received medical attention.
Caterpillar hair contains a nettle poison
"The cause of the renewed outbreak of the allergic reactions is currently suspected that the hair of the oak processionary moths was blown into the school and classrooms by the wind on Friday and at the weekend," says the message.
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.
"The sensitivity and reaction intensity of affected people increases with the number of individual contacts of oak procession spinner hairs," said the experts.
The typical symptoms include local rashes (caterpillar dermatitis), which are expressed 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.
School buildings are professionally cleaned
In Bretten, too, parents were asked to wash their children's clothes and jackets as a precaution.
According to the city, both school buildings are professionally cleaned.
Classes will initially be canceled at both schools. (ad)