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April 1, 1961

Megalopyge Opercularis: Observations of Its Life History, Natural History of Its Sting in Man, and Report of an Epidemic

Author Affiliations


From the departments of Pediatrics and Microbiology, Baylor University College of Medicine, and Allergy Clinic, Junior League Diagnostic Clinics, Texas Children's Hospital.

JAMA. 1961;175(13):1155-1158. doi:10.1001/jama.1961.03040130039009

Megalopyge opercularis, a stinging caterpillar, has been a public health problem throughout the southern states. Survey of an "epidemic" in southern Texas showed a high percentage of severe symptoms, including constitutional reactions that required hospitalization in 3 cases. In fact, severity of reactions observed in some patients suggests the possibility that death could result from these stings, although no deaths were reported in the present survey. The symptoms most frequently observed were marked local pain, local swelling, lymphadenopathy, and headache; shock-like symptoms and convulsions were also noted. Hypersensitivity phenomena appear to be uncommon.