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Health warning over Oak Processionary Moth Caterpillar

We are aware of an increasing problem in the local area from oak processionary moth catrerpillars. These caterpillars are covered in tiny hairs that can cause severe asthma attacks and allergic reactions. Until recently, the moth was found only in mainland Europe, but in 2006 it was discovered on oak trees in Ealing and Richmond, in London. The caterpillars feed on oak leaves and produce silken nests on the trunks of affected trees. There is no natural predator. The hairs can cause symptoms if the caterpillars or their nests are touched, but they can also be carried on the wind. The most common symptoms are an unpleasant rash. Less common problems are sore throats, breathing difficulties or eye problems. Asthma UK has advised those with asthma always to remember to carry a reliever inhaler with them in case of an unexpected attack.

The caterpillars or their nests should not be touched. You should not attempt to remove them, but should report them to one of the addresses given below.

Who is affected by these caterpillars? The caterpillars’ hairs can affect anyone, but asthmatics in particular are at risk of having a severe attack. The hairs can also affect animals, including dogs, cats and horses, so people are also encouraged to keep their pets and livestock away from infested trees.

Why do these moths cause health problems? Health problems are most common when the caterpillar is in its last stages of development in late May and early June, before becoming a moth. This is because the caterpillars are covered with tiny hairs that contain a toxin (thaumetopoein or closely related compounds). If these hairs and toxins come into contact with the skin they can cause symptoms.

What sort of symptoms do they cause? If the hairs or toxins come into contact with the skin they can cause a very itchy skin rash. If they come into contact with the eyes they can cause itchy eyes. Can the symptoms be serious? People vary in their response - not everyone reacts to the caterpillar hairs. The most common problem is an itchy rash which is unpleasant but not dangerous.

What should I do if I develop these symptoms? The recommended treatment includes an oral antihistamine, such as cetirizine or loratadine. Speak to your chemist for advice. If the itching keeps you awake, a sedating antihistamine such as chlorphenamine (Piriton®) may help in addition. Topical steroid cream such as hydrocortisone can also be purchased from the chemist and this may soothe the rash further.  If your symptoms are not responding to this, ask for a telephone consultation with your GP. If you have any breathing difficulty, consider booking an appointment or A&E in extreme cases.

What should I do if I see a nest? Anyone who thinks they have found oak processionary caterpillars or their nests should not touch them or attempt to remove them, but should report their sightings to the Forestry Commission with its Tree Alert on-line pest reporting tool, giving as precise details as possible about the location.

Private Prescriptions 
Please be advised that prescriptions issued by a Private Consultant cannot be converted into NHS Prescriptions. You need to take your Private Presciption to a Chemist who will advise you of the charge. Even if this is high, we are not allowed by new NHS rules to issue them.

 

 

 

 

GP Registrars

Training of Doctors

This practice has been accredited as being suitable for the training of those doctors intending to become general practitioners.

This means that the practice and doctors have had to achieve a number of standards which have been assessed by the Deanery for Kent, Surrey and Sussex, acting on behalf of the National Training Organisation.

These are some points for your information:

  • Those doctors training to become GPs are called GP Registrars. They are employed by the practice.
  • The GP Registrar is a fully qualified doctor who is likely to have a lot of experience of hospital medicine.
  • Sometimes other doctors are also trained and supported in the practice.
  • If you are seeing a Registrar, you can expect to receive the quality of service you would get from your own GP. If you have any concerns, please mention this to a member of staff.
  • In order for the Registrars to successfully complete their training, they need to be assessed on their consulting skills. This is done by the appointed assessors viewing a video of the registrars consultations. You may be asked for your permission to have your consultation recorded in this way. If you agree, you will need to give your written permission by signing a consent form available at reception desk, which will be offered to you. If the doctor appears to be recording your consultation and you have not signed a consent form, you should indicate this to him or her immediately. The recording will be used for educational purposes only. Further information about this process and the confidentiality of it, can be obtained from the reception staff.
  • To ensure that the practice continues to meet the standards of training in the KSS Deanery, it and the doctors will be subject to regular inspection visits (normally every three years) At this inspection another doctor will assess the quality of the patient records. If you do not want your own record to be available for inspection, then please inform the practice of your wishes, and they will be respected. Please ask any member of the reception staff if further information is needed.
  • In addition to training Registrars, the surgery also occasionally provides training to medical students, usually in their final year of training. These students may be present at your consultation, but only with your permission. If you do not wish the student to be present, please advise the GP.


 
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