Thursday, August 20, 2009

Deaths from Insect Stings

I was recently asked to comment on the death of Andy Kessler, a man who was very influential in the rise of skateboarding as a formally recognized activity. This was tragic. Reportedly, he suffered a heart attack after being stung by a wasp.

About 40 to 100 people are reported to die from insect stings each year. This number is likely too low because of marked underreporting of the true cause of deaths. The deaths may be reported as being from a heart attack, (sun) stroke, or asthma attacks. When a person has a severe allergic reaction to any substance, including insect venom, the total body allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis. The person will have difficulty breathing, low pressure, and a weak heart beat. Blood may not get to organs in siffucient quantities and then organ failure ensues. With the lungs (asthma), heart (heart attack), and brain (stroke), their failures would be critical contributions to loss of life.

What to do? I have outlined this in earlier posts. Search for "insect stings" and "anaphylaxis."

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