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  • If I suffer an injury from the two-striped walking stick insect, is there any medicine available to minimize damage or lessen pain on my way to an ophthalmologist?


    Question:

    I live in Florida and have been reading about an insect called the two-striped walking stick. It sprays poison and aims right for the eyes. I've come across stories of people (and pets) who have had their eyes injured, even permanently damaged, by these things. My question is, is there anything over-the-counter that I can keep as part of my first aid kit in case I get sprayed? Even if it's just something to minimize damage or lessen pain on my way to an ophthalmologist? Someone said their ophthalmologist had something that neutralized the poison, but they didn't know what it was.


    Answer:

    Thank you for helping me to learn about the “two-striped walking stick” of which I was not familiar. There is quite a bit available on this insect from internet search engines. This 2- to 4-inch long insect (Amisomorpha buprestoides) can be found in the Gulf States from Florida to Texas. It has two small glands that allow it to accurately spray a toxic chemical about 2 to 3 feet into the eyes of a potential predator. This chemical causes intense eye pain, inflammation of the outer skin of the eye (conjunctivitis) and cornea (keratitis). This insect seems to be much more dangerous to dogs and other small animals as their face would come closer in contact with the insect than a 5- to 6-foot tall human (unless the human was bending down or crawling on the ground). I have been unable to find any references of permanent eye damage from this toxic spray, but would have to say that it is possible.

    The treatment for exposure to this toxic chemical is the same as what we do for all chemicals in the eye: immediate and copious irrigation with water (wash out eye with water). Clean water should be irrigated into the open eye(s) for at least 10-15 minutes and then the patient should be taken to the nearest emergency room or ophthalmologist’s office for immediate follow-up care.


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