ISSN 2398-2969      

Insect stings and envenomation

Clapis

Introduction

  • Venoms are poisonous substances that certain animals can inject by means of a bite, sting or other sharp body feature.
  • Many animals can be described as venomous; there include a wide range of invertebrates and certain fish and reptiles.
  • Amongst the invertebrates, we find spiders, centipedes, scorpions and a wide range of stinging insects. This article deals specifically with venomous insects and focuses particularly on the Hymenoptera(wasp).
  • The Hymenopteraorder is a very larger order containing the sawflies and a wide range of parasitic insects as well as the bees, wasps, hornets and ants:
    • Most bees and wasps are solitary insects, each living and fending for itself.
    • Ants, bumble bees, honey bees and some wasps are social insects, and as such live in colonies rules by one or more large female queens, and all work together for the good of the colony.
  • In the UK, the common wasp ( Vespula vulgaris) and the honey bee ( Apis mellifera) are almost certainly the most common insects likely to sting companion animals.
  • Ants may also bit or sting pets.
  • In the southeastern Unites States, the most common culprit responsible for insect stings is probably the Imported Fire Ant (IFA, Solenopsis invicta).
  • Many catepillars also have defensive venom glands. These are associated with specialized bristles, known as urticating hairs.

Presenting signs

  • Restlessness.
  • Pain.
  • Swelling.
  • Redness.
  • Pruritus.
  • Localized irritation.

Acute presentation

  • In cases of anaphylaxis, restlessness, vomiting, diarrhea, hematochezia, circulatory collapse, coma and death may all be seen.
  • Acute renal failure has been reported following hornet stings in dogs.
  • An IFA sting produces a characteristic local sterile pustule, 1-3 mm in diameter, within 24 h in both humans and rabbits.

Geographic incidence

  • Bees and their cousins, the bumblebees, wasps, hornets and ants are found throughout the UK.
  • They are usually not active at temperatures <13°C  (<55°F) or on rainy days. The highest incidence of stings is therefore typically in August.
  • The spread of Processionary caterpillars across Western Europe has increased the incidence of reactions to their urticating hairs.

Breed disposition

  • Dogs/cats may investigate, and/or catch, insects and may therefore be more predisposed to being stung.
  • By comparison, rabbits are less likely to chase after such insects and may therefore be less likely to be stung.

Public health considerations

  • Minimal.
  • Where a bee or wasp nest is found and disturbed within the home and garden there may be some risk to humans, particularly if hypersensitized individuals are exposed.

Special risks

  • Oropharyngeal edema, where present, may compromise respiration and make intubation difficult.
  • Urticating hairs of the Oak Processionary caterpillar ( Thaumetopoea processionea) and Pine Processionary caterpillar ( Thaumetopoea pityocampa) can cause intense swelling of the tongue and oral tissues if licked from the hair coat. This can lead to severe tissue damage and necrosis of the lingual tissues.

Pathogenesis

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to obtain ten tokens to view any ten Vetlexicon articles, images, sounds or videos, or Login

Diagnosis

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to obtain ten tokens to view any ten Vetlexicon articles, images, sounds or videos, or Login

Treatment

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to obtain ten tokens to view any ten Vetlexicon articles, images, sounds or videos, or Login

Prevention

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to obtain ten tokens to view any ten Vetlexicon articles, images, sounds or videos, or Login

Sequelae

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to obtain ten tokens to view any ten Vetlexicon articles, images, sounds or videos, or Login

Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Niza M E, Ferreira R L, Coimbra I V et al (2012) Effects of pine processionary caterpillar Thaumetopoea pityocampa contact in dogs: 41 cases (2002-2006). Zoonoses & Public Health 59 (1), 35-38 PubMed.
  • Fitzgerald K T & Flood A A (2006) Hymenoptera stings. Clin Tech Small Anim Pract 21 (4), 194-204 PubMed.
  • Shimada A, Nakai T, Morita T et al (2005) Systemic rhabdomyonecrosis and acute tubular necrosis in a dog associated with wasp stings. Vet Rec 156 (10), 320-322 PubMed.
  • Wojcik D P, Allen C R, Brenner R J et al (2001) Red imported fire ants: impact on biodiversity. Am Entomol 47 (1), 16-23 ResearchGate.
  • Noble S J & Armstrong P J (1999) Bee sting envenomation resulting in secondary immune-mediated hemolytic anemia in two dogs. JAVMA 214 (7), 1026-1027 PubMed.
  • Waddell L S & Drobatz K J (1999) Massive envenomation by Vespula spp. in two dogs. J Vet Emerg Crit Care (2), 67-71 VetMedResource.
  • Fribert C A & Lewis D T (1998) Insect hypersensitivity in small animals. Comp Cont Educ Pract Vet 20 (10), 1121-1131 VetMedResource.
  • Jemal A & Hugh-Jones M (1993) A review of the red imported fireant ( Solenopsis invicta Buren) and its impacts on plant, animal and human health. Preventive Vet Med 17 (1-2), 19-32 ScienceDirect.
  • Parrino J, Kandawall N M & Lockey R F (1981) Treatment of local skin response to imported fire ant sting. Southern Med J 74 (11), 1361-1364 PubMed.
  • Beard R L (1963) Insect toxins and venoms. Annual Rev Entomol 8, 1-18 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Cohen R (1995) Systemic anaphylaxis. In: Current Veterinary Therapy XII. Small Animal Practice. Eds: Bonagura J. W B Saunders, Philadelphia, USA.

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

We have an ever growing content library on Vetlexicon so if you ever find we haven't covered something that you need please fill in the form below and let us know!

 
 
 
 

To show you are not a Bot please can you enter the number showing adjacent to this field

 Security code