Actor Jamie Dornan, who starred in Fifty Shades of Grey, was hospitalized in Portugal after exposure to toxic caterpillars on a golf course, according to his friend broadcaster Gordon Smart, who was with Dornan and other friends on vacation.
In the evening after the round of golf, Smart said he felt "tingling in my left hand and tingling in my left arm." His heart rate was 210 BPM. Suspecting a heart attack, he got in an Uber to go to a local hospital, and passed out. He woke up in the hospital.
"As I was lying there, one of the other lads I was with went past on a hospital bed with doctors shouting the same questions to him," Smart recalled. "And I thought, 'That's not a good sign that he's in the same state as me.' "
After leaving the hospital and returning to their place, Smart soon realized that his friend was still there. "There [Dornan] was with all this stuff attached to this chair saying, 'Gordon, about 20 minutes after you left, my left arm went numb, my left leg went numb, my right leg went numb. And I found myself in the back of an ambulance,' " he recalled.
A source close to Dornan refutes Smart's story. "He never went into the hospital — he even played a game of golf the next day and won," they told People.
Nevertheless, a week later, Smart said a doctor called to ask him if the golfing group had been in contact with any caterpillars.
"It turns out that there are caterpillars on golf courses in the south of Portugal that have been killing people's dogs and giving men in their 40s heart attacks. It turns out we brushed up against processionary caterpillars and had been very lucky to come out of that one alive," Smart said.
The UK's Forest Research site says Pine processionary caterpillars have "thousands of tiny hairs which contain an urticating, or irritating, protein called thaumetopoein, giving rise to its scientific name. If these hairs come into contact with people and animals, they can cause painful skin, eye and throat irritations and rashes and, in rare cases, allergic reactions."