How dangerous are African wasp hornets

How dangerous are insect bites?

Summertime - wasp time. For most people, bee and wasp stings are harmless. But if you have an allergic reaction, you should be very careful. We clarify the most important questions about insect bites.

Stuttgart - "Seven hornet stings kill a horse, three kill a person," says the vernacular. Even if this wisdom sounds extremely frightening, it is still wrong. Because how many stings from a honey bee, wasp or hornet can be fatal for a person is very different.

Also read: Stung again - protection against insect bites

In the American town of Douglas, a man was attacked by a huge swarm of bees while mowing the lawn. He passed away after being stung more than 100 times. The author, himself a beekeeper, was picked around 30 times a few days ago. Apart from severe swellings on his right hand and arm as well as numerous reddenings on other parts of the body, he survived it unscathed. But that is not always the case. Even a single sting from a honey bee - placed in the right place - can have bad consequences and in the worst case be fatal.

Allergy sufferers, be careful!

Reactions to stings from honeybees and wasps are the most common. For most, the stinging attacks are harmless. Redness, swelling and itching disappear after a few days. However, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea or palpitations can be the result if you have an allergic reaction to the poison, as Gösta Lotz from the Clinic for Anaesthesiology, Intensive Care Medicine and Pain Therapy at the Frankfurt University Clinic explains.

An insect bite allergy affects up to three percent of the population. Every year, more than 3000 insect venom allergy sufferers are treated by emergency doctors. It is estimated that up to 20 people in this country die every year as a result of allergic shock after a wasp or bee sting. As a rule, violent reactions occur in the first two hours after the bite. Whether you are allergic to insect venom can only be seen once you have been stung. This cannot be reliably clarified in advance.

What to do in an emergency

You don't have to run to the ambulance with every wasp sting. Local reactions of the body can be treated with cooling compresses or creams containing cortisone. But how should you react in an emergency? Remove the stinger as soon as possible. Call a doctor immediately (emergency number 112)! Raise your legs for cardiovascular problems, cardiac massage for cardiac arrest and an upright sitting position for shortness of breath.

Allergy sufferers should always have an emergency kit with them: an antihistamine, a cortisone preparation and adrenaline. In an anaphylactic emergency, inject the adrenaline into the thigh muscle first.

If a bee or wasp is buzzing around you, keep calm. Under no circumstances should you wave your arms around wildly or try to scare away the insect. Bees, hornets and wasps quickly feel attacked and defend themselves with their poisonous sting. Anyone who has ever been stabbed knows how painful it can be. Bumblebees are more patient, but just as prickly.

Hornets, wasps, bumblebees and bees

Hornets are significantly larger than bees and other wasp species, but not more dangerous. To seriously endanger a healthy adult, they would have to stab a few dozen times. However, nobody should try that. Such a test of courage could quickly end in the intensive care unit.

Wasp venom is less effective than bee venom. In addition, the poison dose that gets into the body via the bee sting is around ten times as high in a wasp sting. Only females can sting bumblebees - just like bees. But that happens extremely seldom with the peaceful growlers.

Wasps can sting several times, while bees can sting after the first sting because the stinger contains a barb that gets stuck and fatally injures the bee when it is pulled out. It becomes precarious when the fatally wounded bee alarms conspecifics who rush to the aid of their sister.

Beware of stitches in the throat and pharynx!

You should be particularly careful with sensitive areas such as the respiratory tract, mucous membranes or the eye area. Allegedly there were people who are said to have survived several hundred bee stings. The lack of empirical data makes this claim difficult to verify. On the other hand, a single prick in the throat and pharynx can be life-threatening if there is a risk of suffocation due to the swelling of the airways.

Conclusion: No experiments with apitoxin

A bee sting can be just as life-threatening for a person as 50 or more. If you want to survive the latter unscathed, you have to have a good day, be puncture-tested and used to apitoxin (the medical name for bee venom).

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