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Beware of bee stings (6-16-99)

Bee stings are usually harmless but for some they can be life threatening. As the summer months approaches here are some pointers to keep in mind if you or your family members get stung:

"In general, if you get four or five stings, there is no reason for concern. However, if you are allergic to bee stings then immediate action is necessary," says Bill Watson, Pharm.D., director, South Texas Poison Control Center at The University of Texas Health Science Center. "Signs that you are allergic include swelling around the mouth and trouble breathing. If this occurs, seek medical attention immediately."

Medical attention is warranted if someone is attacked by a swarm of bees. "Honey bees are not aggressive, but in South Texas there is a growing number of Africanized bees. These are very aggressive and they will attack with the slightest provocation," according to Dr. Watson.

Dr. Watson’s best advice: do not bother hives. Unless you are a bee expert, there is no sure way of determining if the bees are harmless. If you’re not sure about a bee sting or any other insect bite, call the South Texas Poison Control Center at 1-800-764-7661 for more information.

Contact: Myong Covert