A Man Dies After Two Bites by an Asian Hornet

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Man dies from Asian Hornet bite
Man dies from Asian Hornet bite
An Asian hornet. | Thierry Creux

The victim, a 60 year old man from Sainte-Sève, had a history of heart problems.  The insect, as dangerous as a European hornet, is increasingly present in Brittany.

The case dates back to the 22nd July.  On that day, a man aged 60 years old, resident of Sainte-Sève in North Finistère (29), approached a nest of Asian hornets which were in a nesting box in his garden.  The man reportedly tapped against the mast of artificial shelter, which would upset insects.  He was attacked by the hornets, being bitten twice on the forehead and the area between the shoulder and neck.

The man went into cardiac arrest: ” The firefighters struggled to revive him, they told me that this was very serious , ”  said a witness present at the scene of the accident. He was immediately taken to hospital for Cavale Blanche in Brest, but later died from complications related to bites.

Four deaths since 2009

” Asian hornets are particularly dangerous for two reasons, explains Denis Jaffré a finistérien beekeeper who specialized in the fight against these insects. First, they attack en masse when they feel attacked and it is easy to accidentaly disturb their nests. ”

These wasps were introduced in France in 2004, as the result of an accidental importation: Chinese pottery have transported queens hibernating.  According to a scientific study conducted in Marseille, it identifies four deceased bites suites since 2009. Three of them had history of allergy.

“Cardiovascular Shock”

The mortality of Asian hornets in France shows no  “unusual severity” , according Gaël Le Roux, pharmacist toxicologist poison control center of Angers.  ” The venom of Asian hornet is a little less toxic than its European counterpart, says the scientist.  But, as with any type of wasps and hornets, it can trigger serious allergic shocks.  “These are reactions anaphylactic shock which can cause angioneurotic edema, and “respiratory and cardiovascular shock distress “explains Gaël Le Roux.  

The Asian hornet is, however, trying to “invade” France.  And Sainte-Sève intends to make an agreement with the Departmental Federation of protection groups against pests (FDGON) to fight against the insect.  In Brittany, twenty-five towns have already done.

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