Southern Californians have been attacked by bees again, this time in the Los Angeles area of La Canada-Flintridge. Police say a 51-year-old woman was stung about 1,000 times Monday after her car was involved in a two-car crash and one of the cars hit a tree. The other driver was a 17-year-old girl.
Both drivers were attacked by the bees when they got out of their vehicles to exchange information. The 51-year-old ran through the neighborhood and found a pool where she dove in and waited to be rescued. The other driver fell to the ground where she was covered in bees. A quick-thinking Los Angeles county deputy who was the first to arrive on the scene alertly used a fire extinguisher to spray the girl, who suffered hundreds of stings, and chase away her attackers. Neither of the victim’s names has been released.
These attacks followed two other bee attacks in the region last week. According to the Sheriff’s Department in San Diego County, a 67-year-old man in Valley Center, CA died after being stung by bees while working on his property. Officials say the man may have disturbed a hive while burning brush. Deputies who were first on the scene reported that the man was already unresponsive when they arrived.
Bees attacked again that same day in Southern California, this time in Palm Desert where a 71-year-old woman was stung about 1,000 times by a swarm of Africanized honey bees, or “killer bees.” The woman was recovering at a Palm Desert hospital, where she was reported to be in stable condition but experiencing a lot of pain. Firefighters and some neighbors were also stung in the aftermath of attempting to remove the hive from the area, while Riverside County Sheriff’s department workers sent out calls warning residents to stay inside.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that on the average 55 people die of stings from bees, wasps and hornets each year in the United States. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are many steps people can take to avoid stinging insects in the first place. First on the list is to take care with sweet beverages when outside. That includes using wide, open cups so you can see if there is an insect in it, and inspecting cans and straws before drinking. The clinic also recommends tightly covering containers of food and trash cans.
What people wear can make a difference too. The Mayo website advises people to avoid wearing open-toed shoes while outside and stay away from floral prints or bright colors, which can attract bees. Loose clothing is dangerous too, as bees can become trapped between the clothing and the skin. Some other tips include driving with your windows up and keeping a watchful eye when doing yard work like trimming and mowing. If a hive is spotted, the clinic says, have it professionally removed.
If bees should appear in the area, the Mayo says to calmly walk away and don’t swat at them. They also point out that when a bee stings, a chemical is released that attracts other bees. In case of a sting the website says the best advice to avoid being stung again, as in the recent Southern California attacks, is to cover the nose and mouth and move quickly away.
By Chuck Podhaisky