A Canadian woman died last year after stepping barefoot on several caterpillars, doctors reported in a teaching case published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
The 22-year old woman from Alberta died 10 days after stepping on five caterpillars while on a trip to northeastern Peru.
The woman felt immediate pain in her right foot, which spread to her thigh, and later developed a headache. The pain in her leg was worse when she walked on it.
The leg pain and headache disappeared within 12 hours so she did not seek treatment while in Peru, the doctors reported in their case study.
After returning to Canada, she was treated at the University of Alberta hospital for extensive bruising on her legs.
After searching databases, doctors determined the symptoms may have been caused by venomous caterpillars, which can cause wide-spread internal bleeding in humans.
Arrangements were made to get a South American antivenin treatment to Canada, but it took 48 hours to do so and by that time it was too late for the young woman who died from multi-organ failure three days after being admitted to the hospital.
The doctors who treated the woman believe there is a need for medical professionals to familiarize themselves with exotic diseases as "adventure travel" becomes increasingly popular.