Fire ants are stinging insects that can deliver a painful bite if an unsuspecting individual accidentally encounters them while trekking outdoors. An individual with fire ant allergy can end up with serious symptoms that entail immediate medical attention.
What are the symptoms?
For those who have fire ant allergy, a sting can trigger a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis. The symptoms of this severe allergic reaction involve more than one part of the body and can include hives, itching, difficulty breathing, swelling of the tongue or throat, stomach cramps, dizziness, diarrhea or nausea.
In extreme cases, a rapid drop in the blood pressure can lead to shock and loss of consciousness. Always remember that the symptoms of anaphylaxis require immediate emergency care.
Due to the severity of a possible reaction, an accurate diagnosis of fire ant allergy is vital so that an individual is prepared for an emergency. Consulting a doctor is highly recommended so that the individual will undergo testing and provide a plan of action in managing an allergic reaction in case stung by a fire ant.
How to identify fire ants
Fire ants typically build nests of dirt in the ground, often on the edges or roads or sidewalks. In damp, clay-type soil, the mounds could reach the height of 18 inches. In arid, sandy soil, the mound may be completely flat. Since the ants do not take away any vegetation from the area surrounding the mounds, they are difficult to see.
Fire ants bite using their jaws while they deliver a sting. This will allow them to pull the stinger out, rotate and deliver another sting. One fire ant can deliver several stings in just a matter of seconds.
The venom in the sting will kill bacteria and some of the skin cells. This results to a blister formation that fills with a cloud-like, white material in about 24 hours. Even though it appears similar to a pus-filled lesion that should be drained, it is actually sterile and will heal quickly if left alone.
The first step is to stay away. Remember that fire ants are more likely to sting if their mound is disturbed. On the other hand, since some mounds are flat, they might be stepped on accidentally. This will cause the fire ants to swarm out in defense of the mound.
In case you accidentally find or disturbed a mound, you have to move away quickly. If you will stay longer in the area, the more stings you will get.
It is recommended to wear closed-toe shoes and socks while outdoors. When working in the yard or garden, always use work gloves. These will allow you to move away from the mound and should be removed with the attached fire ants before they reach the skin.
What to do during a severe reaction?
During a severe reaction, you have to use an auto-injectable epinephrine if available. Once a shot is administered, you have to bring the individual to the nearest emergency department for further care.