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August 13th, 2008
10:58 AM ET

Summer sting

By Judy Fortin
CNN Medical Correspondent

We heard news this week about a reported increase in brown recluse spider bites, but I have my own bug story to pass along.

 While I was taking a walk last Saturday morning I was stung by a large, unidentified flying insect.  The “UFI” was buzzing around my head.  After I swatted it away, my new adversary took revenge by sinking its hypodermic needle-like stinger into my lower thigh. 

I screamed so loudly a passing car stopped to see if I was okay.  I forced myself to keep breathing as I walked with a limp for a mile and a half back home. 

I watched my wound grow from a tiny bump on Saturday to a five inch in diameter dark red mass on Sunday night.  I used some over the counter anti-itch cream, but the ointment stuck to my pants.  By Tuesday my colleagues in the CNN Medical Unit were trying to diagnose my malady.  Was it an infection?  Maybe it was blood poisoning.

By now you’re wondering why I didn’t get it checked out by a doctor.  I finally did just that on Tuesday afternoon.  The doctor measured the rash, checked for swollen glands, asked about my breathing and declared that I had a localized reaction to an insect sting. 

Relieved, I left the office with another tube of prescription-strength anti-itch cream and a warning that the rash may stick around for a week or more.  

I would like to head back out on my walking path tomorrow morning, but a week after getting stung I plan to coat myself with bug spray and this time, I’ll be on the lookout for any “UFIs.”  

How do you protect yourself from attacks by summer insects?  

Editor's Note:  Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation. 


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  1. Praetorian, Fort Myers

    Benadryl, hydrocortizone cream, and an epi-pen are the best choices in combating the affects of summer stings.

    Preventive measures would include: checking around the house for new hornet/wasp hives–and removing them; use of insecticides around eaves and overhangs to reduce nest promulgation; and use of Off or other products to reduce mosquito bites.

    If your child has EVER had a large localized reaction to a bee sting regardless as to whethe you've had the child tested by an allergist–keep Benadryl elixir (for children) and Benadryl capusules 25-50 mg capsules avialable for immediate treatment of reactions to bee stings. If the child experiences signs of a serious reaction–the Benadryl will likely provide life-saving relief until you can get the child to emergency medical care.

    If you know your child is allergic to bee stings–get the allergist, or PCP to prescribe an epi-pen and train you on the use to administer to your child.

    Calamine lotion–is good for mosquito bites and rashs–hydrocortizone cream works faster in most cases–and dosen't leave a pink haze on the skin.

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.