Entomologists Struggle with Cases That Don't Actually Involve Bugs

Entomologists Struggle with Cases That Don't Actually Involve Bugs

Patients with delusory parasitosis are increasingly turning to entomologists, the Boston Globe reported.

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April 25, 2017
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Patients with delusory parasitosis are increasingly turning to entomologists. Gale Ridge of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station was profiled in the Boston Globe for her work with these individuals.

The article noted that delusory parasitosis poses a challenge even for the best-trained physician. You might know that the best treatment is an antipsychotic, but getting patients to accept that prescription or to see the proper specialist can be nearly impossible: The patients believe that the proper medication is not an antipsychotic but an antiparasitic, that the correct expert is not a psychiatrist but an insect specialist.

So they seek out entomologists. As the article stated, Ridge sees as many as 200 of these cases a year. She isn’t the only one with this unintentional expertise. A whole network of entomologists — at universities, research stations, and even at natural history museums — is all too familiar with these requests.

Also interviewed in the article was University of Georgia entomologist Nancy Hinkle. Fifteen years ago, Hinkle got maybe one delusory parasitosis call a week; now she gets one a day. Hinkle noted, “Every state has somebody like Gale or me,” said Nancy Hinkle, a professor of veterinary entomology at the University of Georgia, in Athens. She estimates that these inquiries take up about 20 percent of her time. “I tend to stay a couple of hours every day to deal with the invisible bugs.”

Source: Boston Globe

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