When considering ant species that are dangerous to humans, most people will think of red imported fire ants, or just “fire ants” as they are more commonly known. Of course, medical science has documented many different ant species that are capable of inducing painful and even life-threatening physiological reactions. Although there does exist many species of ant that can deal a painful sting, the majority of these stings will not be life threatening. One notable exception is the red imported fire ant. This ant has caused serious problems for people living in the United States. Fire ant venom is unique for being comprised of allergenic proteins that can induce anaphylactic shock in susceptible people. However, the truth is that researchers still have much to learn about the neurotoxic components of ant venom. For example, researchers have only recently identified the allergenic proteins in the black samsum ant (Pachycondyla sennaarensis). For years, this ant species was known for nothing more than the intense pain that results from their stings. Now, researchers are learning that black ants are capable of causing serious health problems that can sometimes lead sting victims to an early grave.
Not long ago a team of American doctors reviewed all of the emergency room patients that they had collectively treated for black ant bites. The doctors were surprised to find that the symptoms of black ant stings varied widely between mild allergic reactions and full-blown anaphylactic shock. Even more surprising was the fact that Arab countries reported an unusually high amount of severe cases of black ant stings. As it turns out, the black ant species that is native to the middle-east tends to share the same living environments with humans. This less shy middle-eastern variety of black ant is still overtly aggressive just like other black ant species. However, Arabs are more likely than other nationalities to experience life-threatening symptoms as a result of a black ant sting. This is clearly due to the greater degree of mutual exposure between Arabs and black ants. The study’s researchers also claimed that red imported ant venom could be developed as an effective treatment for the violent allergic responses experienced by some people who sustain a sting from the black ant. At the moment researchers are still mapping out the relationship between certain ethnicities and the manner in which they respond to stings from their local black ant populations.
Have you ever sustained a sting from a red imported fire ant? Do you have any allergies to insect stings that you are aware of?
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