Skip to main content

Military Health System

Taking the stings out of summer fun

Image of Beekeeper in protective gear holds framework with bees and honey.. What you should know about preventing and treating bee, wash, and hornet stings.

Recommended Content:

Vector-Borne Illnesses | Summer Safety | Public Health

Bees, with more than 25,000 species, have a critical role in nature, as well as commerce. They are responsible not just for honey, their winter food, but for pollinating food crops, as well as flowers.

Wasps and hornets are also important as they hunt down aphids, caterpillars, and other pests that destroy plants and flowers -- including crops.

Epidemiology

For many, a bee, hornet, or wasp sting is just unpleasant; but for others, it can be fatal.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than 1,100 people were stung from 2000 to2017; For about 62 people per year, it was fatal. The CDC reported the majority of deaths, about 80%, were males.

While estimates vary, the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology estimates that insect sting allergies (includes fire ants, etc.) affect 5% of the population.

Severe Cases

Sting reactions can range from mild reactions to severe.

Bees can only sting once, but hornets and wasps can sting repeatedly. A sting's usual effect is pain, swelling, and redness around the strike area. Sometimes, more swelling will develop over a day or two. The pain may take a couple of hours to resolve.

More severe reaction can involve hives, a lot of itching, difficulty breathing, throat and tongue swelling, rapid pulse, a drop in blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and even a change or loss of consciousness, which is called anaphylactic shock.

Treatment and Response

If you're attacked by a bee, wasp or hornet, run inside or, if can't do that, go toward a shaded area.

You want to get away from where the stinging insect is and where more could congregate. Don't swat at them as that can stimulate them to sting, and you're spending your energy in the same area, not in running away.

Jumping into water may not work as some stinging insects will hover above the surface, waiting.

If you are stung by a bee, and you can see the stinger, remove the stinger using tweezers, your fingernails, or even the edge of a credit card.

Wash the affected area with soap and water to decrease risk of infection.

If you're stung on an arm or leg, elevate it to decrease throbbing swelling, and apply ice as soon as you can, which will reduce pain, swelling and inflammation.

You can put half, or even full-strength ammonia, onto the sting site. That seems to neutralize at least some of the venom.

Taking an antihistamine (e.g., diphenhydramine) can help, as can ibuprofen, and applying calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream.

Avoid scratching the site to avoid chance of infection.

According to the CDC, individuals who know they are allergic to stings and insect bites should carry epinephrine autoinjectors into areas there may be bees, wasps or hornets.

They should also tell family members and coworkers that they are allergic and how to inject the dose.

Remember, autoinjectors expire and should be kept out of extreme temperatures. Avoid storing them in your vehicle glove compartment. You should also consider wearing a medical alert bracelet.

Prevention

Besides the obvious recommendation of avoiding flying, stinging insect, there are some other precautions you can take.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends wearing lighter color clothing that covers the body, as well avoiding perfumed soaps, deodorants, and shampoos, cologne, or perfumes. Staying away from flowering plants (where flying insects look for nectar), and any discarded food also decreases risk.

For anyone who had a severe reaction, with or without anaphylaxis, your primary care manager may refer you to an allergist to confirm your allergies and potentially start you on desensitizing immunotherapy (allergy shots). That can greatly reduce or eliminate risk of life-threatening reactions to future stings.

We need bees, wasps, and hornets, but treat them with a healthy level of respect and be prepared.

You also may be interested in...

MSMR Vol. 25 No. 2 - February 2018

Report
1/1/2018

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Update: Malaria, U.S. Armed Forces, 2017; Surveillance for vector-borne diseases among active and reserve component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2010–2016; Diagnostic evaluation of military blood donors screening positive for Trypanosoma cruzi infection

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 25 No. 4 - April 2018

Report
1/1/2018

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Update: Malaria, U.S. Armed Forces, 2017; Surveillance for vector-borne diseases among active and reserve component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2010–2016; Diagnostic evaluation of military blood donors screening positive for Trypanosoma cruzi infection

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 25 No. 11 - Nov 2018

Report
1/1/2018

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Contributions from the Global Emerging Infections Surveillance (GEIS) network; Brief report: Pre- and post-deployment prevalence of Staphylococcus aureus colonization among U.S. Navy submariners; Surveillance for norovirus and enteric bacterial pathogens as etiologies of acute gastroenteritis at U.S. military recruit training centers, 2011–2016; Brief report: Leptospirosis seroconversion surveillance among U.S. Army infantry forces assigned to South Korea, 2011–2014; Sampling considerations for detecting genetic diversity of influenza viruses in the DOD Global Respiratory Pathogen Surveillance Program

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 24 No. 12 - December 2017

Report
1/1/2017

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Insomnia and motor vehicle accident–related injuries, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2007–2016; Seizures among active component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2007–2016; Brief report: Prevalence of hepatitis B and C virus infections in U.S. Air Force basic military trainees who donated blood, 2013–2016; Fatigue and related comorbidities, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2007–2016.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 24 No. 6 - June 2017

Report
1/1/2017

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Incidence of Campylobacter intestinal infections, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2007–2016; Incidence of nontyphoidal Salmonella intestinal infections, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2007–2016; Incidence of Shigella intestinal infections, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2007–2016; Using records of diagnoses from healthcare encounters and laboratory test results to estimate the incidence of norovirus infections, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2007–2016: limitations to this approach; Incidence of Escherichia coli intestinal infections, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2007–2016; Surveillance snapshot: Annual incidence rates and monthly distribution of cases of gastrointestinal infection, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2007–2016.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 24 No. 7 - July 2017

Report
1/1/2017

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Skin and soft tissue infections, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2013–2016; Age-period-cohort analysis of colorectal cancer, service members aged 20–59 years, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 1997–2016; Incidence of gastrointestinal infections among U.S. active component service members stationed in the U.S. compared to U.S civilians, 2012–2014; Brief report: Laboratory characterization of noroviruses identified in specimens from Military Health System beneficiaries during an outbreak in Germany, 2016–2017; Surveillance snapshot: Norovirus outbreaks among military forces, 2008–2016.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 24 No. 1 - January 2017

Report
1/1/2017

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Update: Malaria, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016; Diabetes mellitus, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2008–2015 introduction of the virus in the Western Hemisphere, 1 January 2016; Rates of Chlamydia trachomatis infections across the deployment cycle, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2008–2015; Brief report: Selected demographic and service characteristics of the U.S. Armed Forces, active and reserve components, 2001, 2009, and 2016.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 24 No. 10 - October 2017

Report
1/1/2017

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella among service members and other beneficiaries of the Military Health System, 2010-2016; Update: Cold weather injuries, active and reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, July 2012-June 2017; Surveillance snapshot: Influenza vaccine effectiveness, U.S. European Command, as estimated by the Department of Defense Global, Laboratory-Based Influenza Surveillance Program, 2016-2017 influenza season; Surveillance snapshot: Influenza immunization among U.S. Armed Forces healthcare workers, August 2012-April 2017

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 24 No. 11 - November 2017

Report
1/1/2017

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Pregnancies and live births, active component service women, U.S. Armed Forces, 2012–2016; Contraception among active component service women, U.S. Armed Forces, 2012–2016; Complications and care related to pregnancy, labor, and delivery among active component service women, U.S. Armed Forces, 2012–2016; Incidence and burden of gynecologic disorders, active component service women, U.S. Armed Forces, 2012–2016; Department of Defense Birth and Infant Health Registry: select reproductive health outcomes, 2003–2014

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 24 No. 2 - February 2017

Report
1/1/2017

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Incident diagnoses of leishmaniasis, active and reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, 2001–2016; Incidence rates of malignant melanoma in relation to years of military service, overall and in selected military occupational groups, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2001–2015; Medical evacuations, active and reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, 2013–2015.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 24 No. 3 - March 2017

Report
1/1/2017

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Diagnoses of traumatic brain injury not clearly associated with deployment, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2001–2016; Update: Heat illness, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016; Update: Exertional rhabdomyolysis, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2012–2016; Update: Exertional hyponatremia, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2001–2016.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 24 No. 9 - September 2017

Report
1/1/2017

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Review of the U.S. military's human immunodeficiency virus program: a legacy of progress and a future of promise; Update: Routine screening for antibodies to human immunodeficiency virus, civilian applicants for U.S. military service and U.S. Armed Forces, active and reserve components, January 2012–June 2017; Sexually transmitted infections, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2007–2016; Brief report: Use of ICD-10 code A51.31 (condyloma latum) for identifying cases of secondary syphilis

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 24 No. 8 - August 2017

Report
1/1/2017

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Multiple sclerosis among service members of the active and reserve components of the U.S. Armed Forces and among other beneficiaries of the Military Health System, 2007–2016; Challenges with diagnosing and investigating suspected active tuberculosis disease in military trainees; Brief report: Mid-season influenza vaccine effectiveness estimates for the 2016–2017 influenza season

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 24 No. 4 - April 2017

Report
1/1/2017

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016; Hospitalizations, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016; Ambulatory visits, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016; Surveillance snapshot: Illness and injury burdens, reserve component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016; Surveillance snapshot: Illness and injury burdens, recruit trainees, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016; Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, non-service member beneficiaries of the Military Health System, 2016.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 24 No. 5 - May 2017

Report
1/1/2017

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Viral hepatitis A, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2007–2016; Viral hepatitis B, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2007–2016; Viral hepatitis C, U.S. military service members and beneficiaries, 2008–2016; Brief report: Tinea pedis, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2000–2016; and Surveillance snapshot: Respiratory infections resulting in hospitalization, U.S. Air Force recruits, October 2010–February 2017.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Public Health
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 61 - 75 Page 5 of 20
Refine your search
Last Updated: August 18, 2022
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery