Killer hornets wreak havoc

Updated: 2013-10-16 07:43

By He Na (China Daily)

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Killer hornets wreak havoc

Workers burn a hornet's nest in a forest in Ankang, Shaanxi province, on Oct 6. Run Banhui / for China Daily

Red alerts after rapid increase in number of venomous insects poses huge threat to people's safety, He Na reports.

If you ask what are the most-feared venomous animals and insects, most people would say snakes, scorpions and spiders. But if you ask that question in the villages around Ankang in Shaanxi province, the answer is universally, "hornets".

The villagers live in mortal fear of hornet attacks and will happily take a long detour home rather than face the prospect of encountering the insects en route.

Tales of people attacked by hornets can be heard almost everywhere in the southern part of Shaanxi. Farmers have been attacked while working in the fields, while walking home, by touching a tree that houses a hornets' nest, being stung when attempting to move nests, or being chased by hornets because of the color of their clothing ... the list goes on and on.

The experiences may vary slightly, but the result is always the same: severe injury or death.

Cheng Conghui, 55, a farmer from Sanping, a village in Ankang, was recently attacked as she walked through a rice field. Although she had taken the precaution of wearing a long dress and trousers, her caution proved fruitless when she encountered a large swarm of hornets, according to reports in Shaanxi Daily.

The doctor who treated Cheng at the local hospital estimated that she had been stung more than 200 times from head to toe and said that very few places on her body were free of the livid red marks.

Another victim, Chen Changlin, who was attacked on Sept 21, is still being treated at Ankang Central Hospital, having been diagnosed with acute renal failure as a result of the venomous stings.

He was attacked when he attempted to help a mother and son who were encircled by hornets. Chen, who was helping a relative to harvest rice, rushed to help, a move that aggravated the hornets, which launched a concerted fierce three-minute attack.

"The hornets chased him more than 200 meters. Hemodialysis is the only treatment for his condition, but we don't yet know how much money we will need to pay for his treatment," said Chen's son.

Even so, these two were lucky compared with those who have died as a result of hornet attacks. People's Daily reported that on Oct 3 an elderly woman in Luoping village, Ankang, died after being attacked as she tried to protect her 4-year-old granddaughter.

The 72-year-old died while being transferred from a clinic in the town to a large hospital. Her granddaughter is still receiving treatment in hospital and is on the "life at risk" list.

Reports by China National Radio show that so far, more than 1,600 people in the Shaanxi cities of Ankang, Hanzhong and Shangluo have been attacked by hornets since July. The death toll currently stands at 42. The National Health and Family Planning Commission has dispatched three medical experts to the province to provide guidance and assistance with the most severe cases.

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