Allergists Respond to Mayor’s Death Due to Wasp Stings

in Outdoor Allergies, Sting Allergy
Published: July 24, 2014

Following the tragic death of a Quebec mayor from wasp stings, the Canadian Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology (CSACI) has issued a statement with advice about insect venom anaphylaxis.

Lucie Roussel, the 51-year-old mayor of the town La Prairie, south of Montreal, died on Sunday, July 20. She had stepped on a wasp’s nest near her cottage in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, and had been stung several times.

“It is thought that Mrs. Roussel died from a toxic reaction to the stings, which usually requires at least 50 stings, or anaphylaxis which can occur after one sting,” the CSACI said in its statement. The news media has reported that Roussel was stung about 15 times, and friends have said she had not been diagnosed with a venom allergy. However, it is possible she was allergic to wasps without being aware of it.

The CSACI statement reminds that “in the event of an anaphylactic reaction, the first treatment is an intramuscular injection of epinephrine, followed by seeking emergency medical services.” It continues: “If you have a history of anaphylaxis to insect stings, it is important that you carry an epinephrine auto-injector with you at all times when you are at risk of being stung.”

The allergists’ group says 1 percent of the population faces a risk of anaphylaxis to the venom of stinging insects such as yellow jackets, wasps, hornet or bees. The CSACI urges anyone who has had a serious reaction to a sting to ask an allergist about allergy shots for insect venom since they are known to drastically reduce the risk of anaphylaxis to stings.

“Desensitization for insect venom is very effective. If you have a history of a generalized reaction to an insect sting and have not been desensitized, it is important to be assessed by an allergist.”