Just about everyone thinks that insect stings are always harmful to those with an allergy to insect venom. On the flip side, it is also universally assumed that those without a venom allergy are largely safe from insect stings. When it comes to people who are not allergic to insect stings, it is widely believed that stings from insects like bees and wasps will only cause pain, but certainly not death. Surprisingly, this is not necessarily the case. In reality, a person with a venom allergy may not develop any symptoms at all following a bee or wasp sting, but this same person can literally fall into a coma or die as a result of sustaining a bee or wasp sting again later in life. In some cases, people have died as a result of insect stings several years after they had sustained the sting. A severe allergic reaction to an insect sting can be experienced by a person who had not had any serious reaction to a prior insect sting. Also, those who do not have a venom allergy should not consider themselves invulnerable to insect stings. Common honey bee and wasp stings have been known to cause serious medical complications and even death in people who did not have an allergy to insect venom. According to researchers, anaphylactic shock is not always the cause of death in fatal bee and wasp sting cases; instead, deaths of this sort may have been caused solely by insect venom.

Not long ago, a woman sustained a wasp sting before suffering a severe reaction that saw her enter into a coma. Sadly, the coma lasted three years before the woman ultimately died as a result of complications caused by the sting. A bee sting victim from the United Kingdom suffered a severe reaction before dying weeks later from multiple organ failure, and this man had sustained bee stings in the past that had not caused any medical complications. Another man only started to feel unwell from an insect sting hours after sustaining the sting. Despite no previous issues with insect stings, this man died days later. It is generally accepted by experts that it is very difficult to know who will have a serious reaction to stings and who won’t. A person’s first insect sting may be harmless, but it can trigger an allergy that could prove deadly if that same person is stung again, even if the following sting does not occur until years later. It is also not well known that many people over forty who have died from an insect sting were judged to have died from “unknown” causes, as neither a venom allergy nor the venom itself could be determined as causing these deaths. According to one immunologist, Dr Bill Frankland, 40 percent of people who suffered a severe allergic reaction to an insect sting did not have any medically significant reaction after their second sting, and this is often the case with children. Although these are not bad odds, those who have an allergy to insect venom should continue to keep their Epipen handy at all times.

Have you ever experienced a severe reaction to an insect sting?