Alabama fire ants

Alabama fire ants

Alabama fire ants

A young Alabama mother was killed by fire ants while making funeral arrangements for her own mother.

Kalyn Rolan was in Selma on May 20 making funeral arrangements for her mother, Roberta Lynn, when she was attacked by fire ants.

“The ants started coming out and getting all over her and she came off the haystack and my son said he grabbed her and put her on the ground, took her clothes off trying to help her to save her but he couldn’t save her,” said Sheila Rolan, the victim’s mother-in-law.

Family members said Rolan was severely allergic to fire ants and started swelling to the point where she couldn’t breathe.

“She died in my son’s arms. I can only imagine what he’s going through right now, you know, and then having to save her mother, too,” Sheila Rolan said.

Coroner Alan Dailey said the woman was treated by volunteer firefighters and then ambulance workers during a 25-mile ride to a Selma hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Autopsy results aren’t complete, he said, but it appeared the woman’s airway closed from anaphylactic shock, a severe allergic reaction to the bites.

[Photo by Insects Unlocked|Wikimedia Commons |CC0]

[Photo by Insects Unlocked|Wikimedia Commons |CC0]

“She had multiple bites around both ankles,” Dailey said. “Those red ants are a problem all over the South. They’re mean, and by the time you know you’ve been bit once they are all over you.”

The 29-year-old leaves behind a husband and two young boys. The family has set up a GoFundMe account to cover funeral costs.

On the GoFundMe page, Sheila Alexander Rolan wrote:

“She was preparing May 20th to attend her viewing on May 21st… unfortunately she didn’t make it. On May 20th she lost her life … she got into fire ants and had allergic reaction to them and died.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that due to a lack of natural predators, fire ants are now more populous in the southern USA than in their native countries of Brazil and Argentina. The biting, stinging insects are quite aggressive, especially when they are disturbed. The CDC recommends caution when in a location where fire ants may be present. Fire ants can live in the ground as well as in water and trees. Red fire ants may also be found under animal carcasses and in hale bays.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) notes that when fire ants bite, they clasp themselves to the skin with their jaws then pivot around to inflict painful stings in a circular pattern. Each sting or bite can leave a wound that is prone to secondary infection. Persons who are hypersensitive to insect venom may suffer severe reactions, including chest pain, nausea, slurred speech, coma, and even death.

In the last three years, there were three deaths from yellow jacket wasps and one death from a snake in Alabama but no reportedant-related deaths