VEGA News Item

A Stinging Reproach to the Human Frailty for Sweeties - 28/06/2010

Warning to pest controllers

1.  In a warning to pest controllers an editorial in the journal Pest (May and June 2010) states that “fatalities from stings may be greater than thought.” These words must be of significance for beekeepers, whose activities and commercial applications worry observers of the industry. Medical warnings also emphasize the dangers to newborn human babies of bacterial infections of honey used in their feeds.

2.  Pest comments further: “most pest controllers will be aware that wasp and bee stings are not only uncomfortable, but in some cases can lead to anaphylactic shock resulting in a heart attack and even death.” It is estimated that in the UK, “approaching 400,000 people seek medical attention for wasp stings each year. Some 1000 are hospitalized and as many as 12 die. However, recent medical research suggests that the number of people who die each year from wasp or bee stings, where the cause of death is misdiagnosed as a heart attack, could be in the thousands.”

3.  The Greek physician, Dr Nicholas Kounis, gave his name to the occurrence of an allergic reaction of the heart leading to acute myocardical infarction – the Kounis syndrome. Unlike other allergic reactions, there are frequently no other obvious symptoms for the heart attack. In this respect it differs from other visible symptoms except for the heart attack. More recently, and still in progress, medical research has identified a delayed type of Kounis syndrome, “where the heart attack may occur anything from 48 hours to almost 2 weeks after the sting.” VEGA continues to acknowledge the debt we humans owe to these industrious pollinators; our clumsy efforts at disrupting their lifestyles and exploiting their thrifty habits cannot be expected to provoke reactions that could be prevented by using other sources of sweeteners, for various purposes, and by noting that excessive consumption of sweetened foods may be harmful and cruel in a world producing sweeteners in great excess for our dietary needs.


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