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Why you really SHOULD be wary of wasps: Doctors warn stings can cause strokes


Why you really need to be wary of wasps: Doctors warn stings can cause strokes, cause ‘catastrophic’ damage to your organs and put you in a vegetative state

  • The man from China was stung four times by wasps in the head and back
  • Wasp or bee stings are responsible for up to 10 deaths per year in the UK and 60 in the US

It’s a warning all wasp haters will fear – getting stung can cause a stroke.

That’s exactly what happened to a 60-year-old in China, doctors have revealed.

Medics suggested he was lucky to survive what is believed to be the first case of its kind ever recorded.

The rare stroke he suffered has a “very high” mortality rate, they wrote in a medical journal.

Experts shared his case as a warning to doctors to be aware of the potential complication, but experts also revealed that stings can cause “catastrophic” organ damage or even put patients in a vegetative state.

The unidentified man went to the hospital three days after the attack complaining of headaches and a stiff neck. He also experienced redness and swelling around the stitches. Pictured above, the redness and swelling caused by two of the stitches on the man’s back

And they can, in extremely rare cases, be fatal. Wasp or bee stings kill up to 10 Britons and 60 Americans each year.

This is usually because the body can have an allergic reaction to the venom, resulting in anaphylaxis – a complication that can be fatal within minutes.

The estimated lethal dose to humans from stings alone is about 500 to 1500 strings. But anaphylactic reactions are not dose dependent.

“Millions of stings occur worldwide every year,” said the Yulin First People’s Hospital team The American Journal of Emergency Medicine.

The potential dangers of wasps

Wasps usually only sting when they feel threatened.

A wasp sting often causes an inflammatory response that can lead to anaphylaxis.

Anaphylaxis, also called anaphylactic shock, can be fatal within minutes.

According to the NHS, it occurs when the immune system overreacts to a trigger.

Symptoms include: feeling light-headed or fainting; breathing difficulties – such as rapid, shallow breathing; wheezing a fast heartbeat; clammy skin; confusion and fear and collapse or loss of consciousness.

It is considered a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment.

Do register The American Journal of Emergency Medicinedoctors at Yulin First People’s Hospital in southern China said medics that in rarer cases, a bee or wasp sting can also cause multiple organ damage.

It can also cause heart attacks or even rhabdomyolysis — a life-altering muscle disorder or strokes, she added.

The unidentified man, who hails from a rural area, went to hospital three days after being stabbed complaining of headaches and a stiff neck.

He also experienced redness and swelling around the stitches.

However, he said the medics had not suffered any head trauma.

Doctors who treated him found that he had high blood pressure, was breathing faster than normal and his body temperature was slightly below average.

They also noticed four stitches on his head and neck.

A CT scan revealed no ‘significant abnormalities’.

But a lumbar puncture — in which a thin needle is inserted between the bones in the lower back to draw fluid from the spinal cord — indicated he may have had a stroke.

It wasn’t until the next day, when the man’s headaches worsened and he vomited while still in the hospital, that the diagnosis was made.

He was found to have suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage – a rare stroke caused by bleeding on the surface of the brain.

Often a subarachnoid hemorrhage is caused by a ruptured aneurysm — a bulge in the wall of a blood vessel in the brain.

But doctors admitted they weren’t sure how the stoke happened in this case.

However, the poison is believed to have burst a capillary or vein in the brain.

Although cases have been recorded in the medical literature following a bee sting, they believe this to be the first time it has been caused by a wasp.

The death rate associated with the rare stroke following an insect attack “is very high,” medics noted.

But it is likely that many more deaths will occur, wrongly diagnosed as heart attacks, stroke or attributed to other causes, according to Allergy UK.

The man was discharged after being monitored for 14 days.

“When patients with wasp stings complain of headaches and neck stiffness, clinical decisions should be made as soon as possible to avoid misdiagnosis,” doctors advised.

“This may allow patients to be correctly diagnosed with wasp sting-induced SAH at an early stage and appropriate intervention may improve prognosis.”

The date of the incident was not revealed in the case report.


There are two main types of stroke:


An ischemic stroke — which accounts for 80 percent of strokes — occurs when there is a blockage in a blood vessel that prevents blood from reaching part of the brain.


The more rare, a hemorrhagic stroke, occurs when a blood vessel bursts, flooding part of the brain with too much blood while depriving other areas of adequate blood supply.

It may result from an AVM or arteriovenous malformation (an abnormal cluster of blood vessels) in the brain.

Thirty percent of patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage die before they reach the hospital. Another 25 percent die within 24 hours. And 40 percent of survivors die within a week.


Age, high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, family history, and history of a previous stroke or TIA (a mini-stroke) are all risk factors for having a stroke.


  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing or blurred vision in one or both eyes
  • Sudden difficulty walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause


Of the approximately three out of four people who survive a stroke, many will have a lifelong disability.

This includes difficulty walking, communicating, eating, and completing everyday tasks or chores.


Both are potentially deadly and patients need surgery or a drug called tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) within three hours to save them.

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