Adult female moths in the genus Gazalina produce urticating hairs that can have profound human health effects. These tussock moths in the family Notodontidae are found in South Asia including India, Nepal and China. Populations increase during the monsoon season in September to early October. The moths are attracted to lights where they can come in contact with people.
Urticating hairs from the female moths can dislodge, come in contact with the eyes and can cause blindness. In 1978, an outbreak of endophthalmitis in Pokhara, Nepal resulted in 13 cases of blindness in one eye. The blindness is the result of acute inflammation of the eye caused by the urticating hairs. Steroids that suppress inflammation can have a therapeutic effect and prevent blindness. Gazalina spp. moths are best avoided and should be handled with caution.
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