Killer Bees & Fire Ants & Skeeters, Oh My!
As We Head Into Labor Day Weekend - How Much Do You Know About These
Residents of Local Parks, Campgrounds or Your Own Backyard?
SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 30 /PRNewswire/ --
Fact: Insects and snakes are important to the balance of nature.
Fact: More people die from insect bites than from snakebites.
Fact: Most insect bites can be prevented.
Fact: The California Poison Control System is a fast, easy way to get the
information you need about these and any other poison-related
While many insects can bite or sting, most are more bothersome than
dangerous, but how do you know which is which? Bites from fleas, mosquitoes
and the common housefly can cause pain, itching and swelling at the site --
an unpleasant experience but not necessarily dangerous, unless an infection
occurs. Some bites and stings from particularly aggressive insects, like
Africanized honey bees ("killer" bees), West Nile virus-carrying
mosquitoes, black widow spiders, and fire ants, and from the few poisonous
snakes in California can be particularly uncomfortable or painful. However,
when treated promptly, they are rarely fatal.
The California Poison Control System (CPCS) is available at
1-800-222-1222 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer questions
relating to treatment and any other questions relating to bites and stings.
As unseasonably warm weather increases the insect population, the
following are some tips to keep everyone -- particularly children -- safe:
o Do not leave food, drinks or garbage out and uncovered. Many bees and
wasps are attracted to the smell of fruit juices, soda pop, leather,
perspiration and rotting food.
o Remove any standing water where mosquitoes may breed, and at dusk wear
long sleeves and pants and apply a repellent with DEET.
o Avoid wearing perfumes and other floral scents (so you don't smell like
o Avoid wearing bright floral patterned clothes (so you don't look like a
o Do not walk barefoot.
o Do not plant shrubs or flowers that attract bees, such as star jasmine
or bottlebrush, next to swimming pools, decks or patios.
o Be careful where spiders live, such as woodpiles, garages and other dark
places and carefully remove any spider webs you may see.
o Shake all shoes, clothing, towels and bedding that have been sitting
around as insects and scorpions may crawl into the folds to hide.
o Run from swarming bees.
o Call a professional bee removal company to remove a hive of any kind.
o If extremely allergic to bee or wasp stings, wear a Medic-Alert bracelet
and ask a physician about prescribing an emergency bee-sting kit to have
o Snakes, even rattlesnakes, are not naturally aggressive, so do nothing
to annoy one.
o If you or your child is bitten by a snake, or reacts strongly to an
insect bite, go to an emergency room for treatment.
Most importantly, if your child is bitten or stung, respond
intelligently and calmly. The California Poison Control System can answer
any questions any time. If breathing difficulties, difficulties swallowing
and/or body-wide itching develop, you should immediately call 9-1-1 for
assistance. Otherwise, wash the bite or sting area well with soap and water
to help prevent infection. If stung or bitten on fingers or hand, remove
any rings or jewelry in case of swelling. Your local pharmacist can help
recommend the best over-the-counter medications to help treat insect and
The CPCS has four divisions located at UC Davis Medical Center in
Sacramento, San Francisco General Hospital in San Francisco, Children's
Hospital Central California in Fresno/Madera and the UC San Diego Medical
Center in San Diego. The CPCS is part of the University of California San
Francisco School of Pharmacy and responsible to the California Emergency
Medical Services Authority.