ATTENTION: CITY DESK/ASSIGNMENT EDITORS
Contact: Tom Capezzuto
At UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School
Autumn Alert: Yellow Jacket Stings Can Trigger Anaphylactic Shock
in Those Who Are Allergic, Warns UMDNJ Allergist
9/1/05—September and October can be dangerous months for individuals allergic to the painful stings of
yellow jackets, whose venom is potentially fatal, warns an allergist from the University of
Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ).
Like it or not, yellow jackets linger until the first fall frost in early November, attracted to
brightly colored clothing, fruit drinks, sandwiches, hair spray and perfume. Their venom may
trigger abdominal cramps, hives, hoarseness, shortness of breath, or difficulty swallowing.
"There is no way of knowing if someone is allergic until they are stung," said Dr. Leonard
Bielory, director of the Asthma and Allergy Research Center at the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical
School in Newark. "All school personnel, particularly nurses, should also keep epinephrine kits
to treat highly allergic children to prevent potentially fatal anaphylactic shock."
Epinephrine is a hormone secreted by the adrenal gland, and relaxes constricted airways,
preventing death by asphyxiation.
Immunotherapy, or allergy shots, are the best preventive treatment for those with severe allergies
to yellow jacket venom, Dr. Bielory noted.
- To minimize the risk of being stung:
- Do not wear brightly colored clothing in the fall.
- Do not use scented soaps, perfume, cologne or hair spray; and use unscented deodorant.
- Cover all food and drinks outdoors and be careful when drinking from open containers
since yellow jackets will crawl inside them and can sting inside the mouth.
- Avoid trash containers on playgrounds because yellow jackets hover around trash