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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 August 2006, 14:14 GMT 15:14 UK
Wasp-sting warning after deaths
Wasp stings can lead to fatal allergic reactions
The deaths of two men after they were stung by wasps have led experts to reinforce warnings of the dangers of allergic reactions to venom.

The men, both from Hampshire, died from anaphylactic shock.

Allergy experts say it is rarely the first sting that causes the allergic reaction, so people should always watch for signs such as feeling faint.

Insect experts say wasp numbers are back to normal after several years where there were fewer than expected.

The problem with these sorts of reactions is it isn't necessarily the first or second sting that causes them
Muriel Simmons, Allergy UK

The two men who died were father-of-three Ron Allan, stung by a swarm of wasps after disturbing a nest as he worked in his garden in Itchen Abbas on July 21 and farm labourer Andy Conduct, from Alresford, stung five times by wasps in his garden, who died in hospital two days later on August 7.

Mr Allan had never previously suffered an allergic reaction to a wasp sting, while Mr Conduct had been stung in the weeks before his death and had been given antihistamine tablets.

Inquests have been opened and adjourned into both deaths.

Warning signs

Muriel Simmons, of the charity Allergy UK, said the men's tragic deaths reinforced the need for people to watch out for signs they had had a dangerous reaction to the venom in a sting.

She said: "The problem with these sorts of reactions is it isn't necessarily the first or second sting that causes them.

"It may be that the body deals with the venom the first time. But, by the later stings, the body knows what it is dealing with and the immune system goes into overdrive."

Symptoms can include tingling, feeling faint or even collapsing and vomiting.

Anyone who experiences these symptoms - even if they have previously been fine after a sting - should call 999.

Matt Shardlow from the insect charity Buglife warned wasps are a particular problem in the late summer.

He added: "Based on the trend in allergic reactions, we would expect to see a long-term increase in the number of wasp (sting) deaths."

A health select committee in 2004 said: "Levels of allergy in the population have soared in recent years.

"Allergies are present in around 30% of the adult population, but the figure is higher for children, with 40% of children having some form of allergy."

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