Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Briton, 61, Killed by Swarming Bees in Tanzania

As most of readers know, foreign travelers abroad can be beset by emergencies and calamities that simply cannot be anticipated.

Such was the case for Mick Bryan, 61, and his wife, Jacqueline, 43, who were traveling in Tanzania in recent days and had just celebrated Jacqueline's birthday. Subsequently, after pulling up to a campsite to have lunch, a swarm of bees suddenly converged on both of them, at which point Mick Bryan warned his wife to run.

COMMENT: Tragically, Mick Bryan was stunk multiple times and died shortly after being bitten. Although Jacqueline was stung as well, she was able to summon help from a nearby road. British diplomats in Tanzania are assisting Mrs. Bryan with arrangements.

It is not a bad idea for older travelers to be tested by an allergy specialist to determine if they are allergic to bee stings. The test is relatively simple and involves having a small amount of purified allergen extract (in this case, bee venom) injected into the skin of your arm or upper back. This test is safe and won't cause any serious reactions. If you're allergic to bee stings, you develop a raised bump (hive) at the test location on your skin.

Eight-seven percent of people are not allergic to bee stings, but 3% of the population can experience a life threatening anaphylactic reaction called anaphylaxis, which can produce symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, wheezing, difficulty breathing and a drop in blood pressure that leads to shock if not treated promptly.

In the majority of cases, most people will have only a localized reaction to a bee sting. In the normal reaction to a bee sting, the skin is reddened and painful. Swelling and/or itching may also occur, but the pain usually disappears over a few hours or a few days.

For those 3% of the population who may face life-threatening symptoms after sustaining a bee sting, they should talk to their medical provider about taking special precautions, including carrying a syringe and a drug called epinephrine at all times (used to treat anaphylactic reactions).



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