NEWS FROM THE SURGERY
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.
DID YOU KNOW that it is much quicker and easier to manage your own repeat prescriptions rather than leaving them with the Pharmacist? We aim to deal with repeat prescriptions within 48 hours, but if you leave it at the Pharmacy, they have to bring it to the Surgery, we issue it, and then it gets taken back to the Pharmacy. This can sometimes take up to 72 hours! Alternatively, you can use our online system for re-ordering repeat prescriptions at www.oxshottmedicalpractice.co.uk
There will be a diabetic clinic every other Wednesday morning. This will be run by our practice nurse Rosemary Tyler and our diabetes nurse specialist Caroline Morgan. All our diabetic patients will be contacted in due course by Michelle Gibbs, the clinic co-ordinator, and invited in for their annual diabetic review.
URGENT ‘ON THE DAY’ APPOINTMENTS
If you telephone the Surgery to get an “urgent” appointment for the same day, please be advised that the doctors have requested that the receptionists ask “Could you give me, for the benefit of the doctor who will see you, an indication as to the nature of the problem?” Please co-operate by giving the receptionist this information. It will then be passed on to the doctor in question and will not only save time, but the doctor can be better equipped to deal with you, before you walk into their consultation room, as they will then have an idea as to the nature of the problem. If you ask for an “urgent” appointment and are not being truthful, the doctor may speak to you about this.
We are trialling a new system that will enable us to send additional text messages to your mobile (or landline). These messages will be reminders about your appointment, or they could be a reminder that you need a blood pressure check, diabetic check, or other information relating to you and your health. Please ensure that the receptionists have your most up to date mobile numbers when you are at the desk or when you telephone the surgery.