Insect Stings—A Medical Emergency

Claude A. Frazier, MD
JAMA. 1976;235(22):2410-2411. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03260480030025.
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EVERY summer, especially during the month of August, a large number of people are endangered by the teeming world of insects. This is not a case of "blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel," for a generalized systemic reaction to a single insect sting can present a medical emergency that can result in death within 10 to 15 minutes. Since it is estimated that eight in a thousand individuals are allergic to insects and that four of these eight are severely sensitive, the potential for trouble is great. In fact, there are more fatalities annually due to insect stings or bites than to snakebites.

While some people do react allergically to the various flies, mosquitoes, biting midges, wheelbugs, and the like, members of the Hymenoptera order—bees, yellow jackets, hornets, wasps, and ants—are responsible for the more serious problems.



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