42 Killed by Giant Hornets in China
Hornets have killed dozens of people in China and injured more than 1,500 with their powerful venomous sting.
The Asian giant hornet (Vespa Mandarinia) carries a venom that destroys red blood cells, which can result in kidney failure and death, said Justin O. Schmidt, an entomologist at the Southwest Biological Institute in Tucson, Arizona.
But perhaps a bigger problem than the toxicity of the venom is allergy, Schmidt says. Some people are naturally more allergic to stinging insects than others; a sting can trigger a deadly anaphylactic reaction, which may involve airway closure or cardiac arrest.
Since July, hornet attacks have killed 42 people and injured 1,675 people in three cities in Shaanxi province, according to the local government. Among those attacked, 206 are receiving treatment in hospitals.
What are these hornets?
The Asian Giant Hornet is the largest hornet species in the world.
These hornets are found throughout East and Southeast Asia, in countries such as in China, Korea, Japan, India and Nepal.
The giant hornet extends about 3.5 to 3.9 centimeters in length (1.4 to 1.5 inches), roughly the size of a human thumb.
The queens are even bigger, with bodies that can grow longer than 5 centimeters (2 inches).
What is the human impact?
Over the summer and early fall, hornets have invaded schools full of children and descended upon unsuspecting farm workers in China.
The influx of venom to the human body can cause allergic reactions and multiple organ failure, leading to death.
Why so many attacks now?
The spate of attacks could be caused by the unusually dry weather in the area, authorities say. The arid environment makes it easier for hornets to breed. Urbanization could also be a contributing factor, as humans move into hornets’ habitats.
How to protect yourself
People run into trouble when these hornets form a nest: a basketball-shaped nest that looks like it’s made of gray paper, sometimes under an eave, Schmidt said. If you disturb one of these, or happen to whack a tree that has a nest in it, the hornets may respond as if they’re under attack.
Humans can get themselves in danger by reacting poorly to these large hornets. If you see a nest or a hive, just avoid it, Schmidt says. If one of them buzzes around you, don’t panic.
“Don’t flap or scream or freak out,” he advised. “Just calmly walk away.”
For more details, visit: http://edition.cnn.com/2013/10/03/world/asia/hornet-attack-china