Stinging death causes concern

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 23, 2003

The death of a Shiloh man Sunday afternoon from an apparent wasp sting has many people concerned about their own safety when in the outdoors.

Jon E. Adams, PA-C with Pike Internal Medicine said the worries are not unfounded.

Stings from insects can be very serious and should be taken seriously when any unusual reaction is evident, he said.

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"If a person is stung and experiences any tightness in the throat, difficulty breathing or nervousness, they should go to the local ER or see their doctor immediately," Adams said. "If the sting or bite occurs away from immediate medical attention, it is best to contact paramedics because they will be able to administer treatment."

Adams said allergic reactions to insect stings and bites

are more common than one might think.

"They are fairly common," he said. "I saw three patients with insect bites last week. None of them were life threatening, but they were concerned enough to seek medical attention."

Adams said a person can be stung or bitten one day and not experience any allergic reaction and be stung the next day and have a full-blown reaction.

"Sometimes your body does not recognize the toxins and, then again, you could have a life threatening reaction," he said. "The sting or bite can cause a histamine reaction that causes sweating, a flushed feeling all over the body, tightness in the throat and difficulty breathing.

"That you haven't had an allergic reaction before means nothing. The body can change the way it looks at the poison and put up such a defense that it overcomes the body. And, it can happen very quickly."

Those who have experienced allergic reactions to insect bites are often prescribed an Epipen, Adams said.

"An Epipen is a self-administered adrenaline shot," he said. "If you're stung, you can give yourself a shot in the leg to help counter the poison. Benadryl, an over-the-counter medicine, could help."

Adams said if a person has a severe allergic reaction, it doesn't matter where the bite occurred.

"An allergic reaction can occur from a bite on the foot as quickly as one on the upper part of the body," he said. " A bite anywhere can cause a bad reaction."

Being aware that insect bites can be very dangerous is the first step to safety in the outdoors. Knowing your surroundings is another and knowing the signs of trouble is of the utmost importance.