A 32-year old Spotsylvania County, Virginia mother of four who was expecting her fifth child, died unexpectedly over the weekend after she was stung by wasps. Sarah Harkins was standing in the backyard of her home when she was suddenly attacked by several wasps who stung her repeatedly. Harkins suffered an immediate allergic reaction to the stings and became unconscious. She was taken to the local hospital where a physical examination revealed that there was an aneurysm in her brain which burst and caused her death, according to her brother Tom Schulzetenberg.
Schulzetenberg says that his sister’s dream was always to have a large family and that she was excited about delivering her fifth child, a girl. She loved her children so much that she decided to home school them and also participated in a home employment project making rosary beads during her spare time so she could be available to her children whenever they needed her. Her brother reports that her husband Eric never expected to lose his wife and would likely be overwhelmed caring for his four children without her help.
Several co-workers of Eric Harkins, along with several family members, have set up two online donation sites to help with her funeral expenses, as well as the expense of raising her children without Sarah’s help. To date, the two sites have already raised more than $150,000 in funds. Sarah Harkins unexpected death from an allergic reaction to wasp stings came just a few days shy of her 33rd birthday.
Almost one million people are stung by bees and wasps on an annual basis, but most of them only experience mild pain and swelling that can last anywhere from 2 to 7 days. Allergic reactions are much more serious, causing anaphylaxis, difficulty breathing and sudden death.
According to government statistics, about 3.3 percent of adults will experience anaphylaxis after an insect sting and there are 40 to as many as 100 deaths annually from insect-sting-related anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a severe type I hypersensitivity allergic reaction in humans and other mammals.
Dr. David Golden, associate professor in the Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology at Johns Hopkins University’s Medical Institute, told ABCNews.com it’s “nearly impossible” for someone to die from being stung the very first time, although any sting can trigger the development of the allergic sensitivity.
Government statistics also indicate that among people who have symptoms of anaphylaxis after being stung, there is a 60-70 percent chance that future stings will cause a similar reaction. The chances of a reaction with a future sting will decrease over time, but still remains at about 20 percent many years after the last sting.Source: sarah harkins stings
Sting Death Statistics