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J Med Entomol. 2019 Jan 8;56(1):254-260. doi: 10.1093/jme/tjy144.

Recent Trends in Wasp Nest Removal and Hymenoptera Stings in South Korea.

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Institute of Plant Medicine, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, Republic of Korea.
Korea National Park Research Institute, Korea National Park Service, Wonju, Republic of Korea.
School of Applied Biosciences, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, Republic of Korea.


To better understand the impact of social wasps on the health of people in South Korea, we analyzed requests to emergency services call centers for the removal of social wasp nests and the effect of Hymenoptera stings on human health between 2010 and 2014. There were 483,233 calls requesting removal of wasp nests and Hymenoptera stings caused 78,860 injuries and 49 deaths. The strong relationships between both the number of emergency calls and injuries, and urban density reflect the sensitivity of densely populated areas to potential threats from wasp and the increased awareness of the wasp nest removal service communicated by public education programs. We found that the removed nests belonged to 17 species of social wasp, with Polistes rothneyi koreanus Vecht and Vespa velutina nigrithorax du Buysson being the most prevalent. Problems associated with the invasive V. v. nigrithorax increased as the species became more widely distributed across the country and more abundant in urban areas. Increases in the incidence of sting injuries among males aged 40-69 between July and September were likely due to increased exposure during outdoor activities involving less-fit adults. In total, 1.5% of victims required hospitalization, of which 98.5% were treated as outpatients. Total medical costs associated with wasp stings over the 5-yr period were approximately 3.2 million USD. Although most wasp sting-related injuries were minor, some were serious, including fatalities, and were probably attributable to lack of education on wasp attack behavior.


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