Bee or wasp stings causing severe reactions have sent at least four people - an unusually high number - in Pierce County to the hospital within the past week, health officials said Tuesday.
At least four people were admitted to Puyallup’s Good Samaritan Hospital in the past 10 days, said MultiCare spokeswoman Marce Edwards. They had gone into anaphylactic shock because of an allergy to the venom and required intensive care.
Three of the patients have been discharged, while one man remains hospitalized.
The hospital usually encounters one or two stung patients a year, Edwards said. To get four in a week and a half is unusual.
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The attacks were centered in South Hill, said Joby Winans, spokeswoman for the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. A hive in the area was located and destroyed.
The state Department of Health has identified three of the insects from the hive as common yellow jackets, a type of wasp. It is unknown whether all the victims had been stung by yellow jackets.
Bees and wasps inject venom with a stinger attached to their bodies. Most bees or wasps sting only if attacked. Effects of a bee or wasp sting range from swelling, mild discomfort and pain to potentially lethal anaphylactic shock.
If stung, the Health Department says, wash the area with soap and water. If you can see the stinger, remove it by scraping a fingernail over the site.
For people not allergic to the venom, it is normal for the site of the sting to form a lump, turn red and itch.
If someone shows the following signs of allergic reaction, health officials say, dial 911 immediately: swelling that moves from the sting to other areas; hives across the body; nausea; choking and difficulty breathing; blue lips and face from lack of oxygen; loss of consciousness.