As springtime nears, bee stings start to go up - East Valley Tribune: Health

As springtime nears, bee stings start to go up

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Posted: Saturday, March 24, 2012 7:37 am

As we push into spring and more people spend time outside, the possibility of bee stings becomes increasingly prevalent.

Unless you’re allergic to bee sting venom, it’s probably not a major concern, but when stung multiple times, anyone can have hypersensitivity, said Dr. Brian Page, a physician a Banner Ironwood Medical Center.

Two weeks ago, the emergency room at Banner Ironwood in San Tan Valley treated two people for multiple bee stings, said Dr. Brian Page, a physician in the emergency room.

While there are a relatively few number of incidences where people are stung multiple times, as people become more active outdoors in the spring and citrus groves begin to bloom, the risk increases.

People who agitate hives — intentional or not — cause most multiple bee stings and swarms, said Capt. Mike Connor, a spokesman for the Gilbert Fire Department. While there are Africanized bees in Arizona (the first death caused by Africanized bees occurred in 1995), most bees won’t attack people unless they are first disturbed.

“One time, a couple of kids shot a hive with a paintball gun,” Connor said. In another instance, a man ran over a hive with a riding lawn mower.

In both instances, the bees swarmed throughout the area, and attacked anyone and anything they could find, including pets, Connor said.

If you are attacked by a swarm of bees, Page offers these tips:

• Cover your face and eyes with your hands.

• Run into a building or a car, whichever is closer; even if bees follow you in, it prevents more from attacking you.

• Don’t jump into a pool; the bees will likely be there when you emerge.

• Call 911 immediately if someone is being attacked.

“The first line of treatment is to remove the stingers,” Page said. “The stingers continue to pulsate even after it is detached from the bee and it is injecting venom into your body.”

By using a credit card to scrape or tweezers to pluck out the stinger, it prevents it from stinging someone else, he said. Also, use ice on the affected area since it slows inflammatory response.

While not all bee stings need to be treated at the hospital, sometimes it’s not a bad idea, Page said.

“Whenever in doubt, always err on the side of caution,” Page said. “Come to the ER because that’s what we’re here for.”

Also, if you do find a hive, don’t remove it by yourself, Connor warns. Instead, leave it to a professional.

“If someone sees a hive, the best thing is for people to call a beekeeper of an exterminator,” Connor said.

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