Mother warns of toxic caterpillar threat

A mother is warning parents to beware of toxic caterpillars after her five year old son was poisoned.

Kelly Bramford says that her son William Bradford, who attends Bassett’s Farm Primary School, came out in a rash on his face and legs after handling a brown tail moth caterpillar.

At first doctors did not know what was causing the rash, and it was only after another parent recognised the symptoms, that William could be treated.

Although William’s condition has now improved, the rash is still visible, and his mother has been forced to destroy all of his school uniform to prevent a repeat reaction.

Kelly believes William touched the caterpillar after it crawled onto the school’s grounds during lunch time.

Kelly said: “It was quite frightening for us to be honest because this rash was just getting worse and worse and the doctor didn’t know what it was.

“Once we worked out it was a caterpillar, it was quite a horrible procedure to get rid of the hairs - William had to be scrubbed down and we had to destroy his clothes.”

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“We just want to warn parents, because it is worrying - I’ve got a 21 month old girl as well who could pick one up.”

Bassett’s Farm head teacher Sarah Bennett said: “I’ve spoken to one parent who thought their child may have touched a caterpillar at school and another who thought their child had touched one at home.”

“We have sent a message to parents as a precautionary measure advising that there are such caterpillars around.”

Brown moth tail caterpillars are brown with red spots and are covered in millions of barbed hairs.

If the hairs come into contact with humans they can cause an irritant reaction and, in some cases, breathing difficulties.

A spokesperson for East Devon District Council said: “Unusually, we have had three cases of brown tail moth caterpillars in East Devon this spring - all in Exmouth- and the owners of the affected gardens have been given advice on how to deal with them.

“Any residents with concerns about the caterpillars should contact EDDC’s Environmental Health or Countryside Teams for advice before attempting to remove them.”