|Deshazo, Richard - UNIV OF MS MEDICAL CENTER|
|Moak, Edward - UNIV OF MS MEDICAL CENTER|
Submitted to: Annals Of Internal Medicine
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 21, 1999
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Several recent incidents of imported fire ant attacks on individuals within health care facilities indicates that these attacks are on the increase and the consequences can be severe. Some of the individuals attacked by fire ants such as two in a nursing home subsequently died. Because imported fire ants now infest over 310 million acres in the United States and Puerto oRico, they can be a serious threat to individuals in health care facilities. A physician at the University of Mississippi Medical School, Jackson, MS and a scientist at the Center for Medical, Agricultural & Veterinary Entomology, USDA-ARS report two recent attacks by fire ants on patients, review past instances of these attacks, and recommend a procedure for inspection and control measures to undertake if fire ants are found in health care facilities. It is extremely important that the presence of fire ants within these facilities be taken seriously and that control efforts to eliminate them begin immediately. Treatments should be conducted both indoors and outdoors with recommended baits and other insecticides. It is also important to know that all immobile individuals that are present should be considered at risk for fire ant attacks and should be carefully supervised as long as the ants are present.
Technical Abstract: Imported fire ants now infest over 310 million acres in the United States and Puerto Rico. Colonies have been found in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Virginia. We report two recent fire ant attacks on individuals in health care facilities and review the medical literature on similar attacks. These two incidents bring the total to 10 reported fire ant attacks on individuals within dwellings since 1989. Six of the individual attacked, including the two nursing home residents reported here who subsequently died as a consequence of stings, had pre-existing neurological impairment. Eight of the 10 attacks have been reported in the last four years. The presence of fire ants within occupied dwellings indicates the presence of active fire ant colonies in the immediate proximity. Efforts to eliminate these insects should be undertaken immediately, especially if immobile individuals are present. These individuals should be considered at risk for fire ant attacks as long as the ants are present. When fire ants are noted indoors, an active infestation should be assumed and the building and perimeter should be inspected and if ant activity is noted, bait-based insecticides should be applied as directed in the product instructions. In addition, routine pest control services should be conducted outdoors around the perimeter of the building(s) with bait applications conducted 2-3 times per year or as necessary. Until ants are no longer present, infants, neurologically compromised or otherwise immobile individuals in dwellings should be carefully supervised.