A Mysterious Eye Condition Is Now Known To Be Caused By An Invasive Ant
There are plenty of medical conditions that have been described in literature that have no known cause. One of these mysterious medical conditions is referred to as leukomas or corneal opacities. The condition involves lesions in the cornea that results in a white discoloration in the eye of humans and some animals. The first reported case of leukomas was noted in 1968. The condition was only found in immigrants from the West Indies. However, it turns out that indigenous tribes from Colombia have long known what caused the eye condition. Now Diego Rosselli, Ph.D., of the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Colombia and James Wetterer, Ph.D., of Florida Atlantic University have collaborated on a study that revealed the cause of the eye condition. It turns out that their results agreed with the claims made by the indigenous Colombian tribes. The cause of Leukomas was a sting from the Wasmannia auropunctata, or the little red fire ant.
After the eye condition was reported in some people from the West Indies, cats from Florida were found with the same eye problem, and then dogs in Brazil. Initially, medical researchers assumed that the eye lesions were caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Later on it was assumed that a parasite that causes river blindness was to blame for the condition. While doctors were guessing how the eye lesions were caused, the indigenous Colombian tribes knew that a sting from the little red fire ant caused the lesions. This is due to the fact that many tribe members had also developed the condition after being stung by the ant.
The little red fire ant originally dwelled in South and Central America. As human trade progressed around the globe, the little red fire ant made its way into new territories. Eventually the little red fire ant would wind up in Florida, Africa, Israel, the Galapagos Islands, the Pacific Islands, Hawaii and Papua New Guinea. The eye lesions are caused by a toxin created by the ant. The lesions often occur when the ant bites as a result of blinking. When people notice the ant on their eye, they blink, which then causes the ant to sting in defense.
Do you think that indigenous knowledge concerning native insects should be taken more seriously by western doctors?