Experts estimate that 2 million Americans are allergic to insect stings, and many of these individuals are at risk of suffering life-threatening reactions to insect venom.
Insect stings send more than 500,000 Americans to hospital emergency rooms every year.
Most people develop swelling and redness after an insect bite. Even those who are allergic usually have only mild symptoms, although the swelling may expand beyond the area around the sting. People with allergies may experience a more serious reaction (anaphylaxis). Approximately 500 Americans die each year from anaphylactic reactions.
Symptoms of insect sting allergic reaction may include hives, itchiness, swelling in areas other than the sting site, difficulty breathing, a sharp drop in blood pressure, hoarse voice or swelling of the tongue, dizziness, unconsciousness and cardiac arrest. Reactions such as these require immediate medical attention.
Most serious reactions are caused by five types of insects:
• Yellow Jackets: black with yellow markings. Nests can be found in building walls, wood piles and underground.
• Honeybees: have fuzzy round bodies with yellow and dark brown markings. The nests are typically found in trees.
• Paper Wasps: have yellow, brown, black and red markings. The nests are typically found in shrubs, wood piles and behind shutters.
• Hornets: have yellow, orange, and black markings. The nests are usually located in trees.
• Fire ants: are brown or red ants, live in large mounds and are highly aggressive.