As the welts fade and tears dry, the long-term effects of wasp or bee stings can be much harder to see. After 135 students in Kamloops were stung by a rolling wasp nest alongside their Terry Fox Run, parents should be advised of an increased risk of potentially developing an allergy to future stings.
“With allergies, what people often don’t realize is you have to be exposed or sensitized first before you can develop a bad allergic reaction with subsequent stings. Usually, the first sting is not the problem, it’s the subsequent stings,” Dr. Donald Stark, a clinical associate professor with UBC’s allergy and immunology department, said.
If people have had a significant reaction before, there’s a 60 per cent chance they will have an as bad or worse reaction to being stung again, he said. There’s no way to tell the next sting will instigate a big reaction, so Stark recommends looking at a family history of allergic reactions to insect stings. Even then, it’s not impossible that someone would develop an allergy after being stung.
August and September is the riskiest time for insect stings, when the tiny creatures become more aggressive as they build and protect their hive.
“It’s weather-related. The weather tends to be drier and starts to be cooler, and the insects start to realize that winter is coming,” Stark said.
But that doesn’t mean kids should be kept indoors, Stark said. Parents should update their child’s medical history and information with their school and teachers, and keep adrenaline kits, anti-histamines or epi-pens on hand when going outside.