Western yellow jackets have jagged bands of yellow and black and are found in the Southern parts of the state and above the Mogollon Rim. The stings are painful and occur mostly outdoors when nests are bothered.
The severity of an insect sting reaction varies from person to person. A normal reaction will result in pain, swelling and redness around the bite site. A large local reaction includes swelling and redness beyond the sting site. Although frightening in appearance, these large local reactions will go away over several days.
The most serious reaction to an insect sting is an allergic one. Any one of these reactions requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction or “anaphylaxis” may include one of the following:
• Hives, itching or selling in areas other than the sting site.
• Tightness in the chest and difficulty breathing.
• Hoarse voice or swelling of the tongue.
• Dizziness or a sharp drop in blood pressure.
• Unconsciousness or cardiac arrest.
This type of reaction can occur within minutes after the sting and may be life-threatening. People who have experienced an allergic reaction to an insect sting have a good chance of a similar or worse reaction if stung again by the same kind of insect; always carry appropriate medicine prescribed by your physician with you when outdoors.
Call the Arizona Poison & Drug Information Center at 1.800.222.1222 to determine whether the bite victim can be managed at home or will require medical attention.