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At least 40 people a year die from allergic reactions to stings from bees or other insects, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Potentially life-threatening reactions occur in fewer than 1 percent of children and 3 percent of adults.
But seek care quickly for signs of an emergency, Blackwelder stresses: Swelling on the face or neck, shortness of breath or feeling dizzy. People who know they're allergic should carry an EpiPen.
Bites from a black widow or brown recluse can require medical care, although fatalities are incredibly rare. You may not feel the black widow's bite, but within about an hour pain spreads through the abdomen, with cramping or rigid abdominal muscles. Poison centers stock antivenom, but most people do fine with muscle relaxants and other care, says Blackwelder, a spokesman for the American Academy of Family Physicians.
A brown recluse bite eventually forms an ulcerlike lesion that can get fairly large but usually requires just good wound care, he says. But other infections can be mistaken for these bites, so Coddington says bringing in the suspect spider helps identification.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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