Texas Boy in Critical Condition After Ant Bites

PHOTO: Cameron Espinosa, an eighth grade student at Haas Middle School in Corpus Christi, Texas suffered a severe allergic reaction to ant bites he received on a football field.
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A Texas middle school student has landed in intensive care after suffering a severe allergic reaction to ant bites he received on a football field Wednesday afternoon.

Cameron Espinosa, an eighth grade student at Haas Middle School in Corpus Christi, Texas, was huddled with fellow players during halftime of a game with nearby Hamlin Middle School when he began to scream, "Ants! Ants!"

A coach ran over and attempted to squirt the ants off Espinosa's legs using a water bottle shortly before the 13-year-old lost consciousness and collapsed on the field, according to a spokeswoman for the school.

The coach called 911 while an assistant coach ran to a nearby gym to find a defibrillator, which they used to restart the boy's heart.

Paramedics arrived shortly afterwards and transported the boy to Bay Area Hospital in Corpus Christi. He was later transferred to Driscoll Children's Hospital, also in Corpus Christi, where he remains in critical condition.

The school had extra counselors on hand today to counsel students who were at the game, which typically draws a crowd of 100. The principal told KZTV, a CBS affiliate in Corpus Christi, that the football field would not be used until it had been treated for ants.

Given the boy's reaction, it was likely that the ants were fire ants, said Dr. Stanley Fineman, an allergist with the Atlanta Allergy and Asthma Clinic and immediate past president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Fire ants can be red or black. They're the only ants that inject venom, which is what prompts an allergic reaction that can vary from a single itchy, red bump to hives or anaphylactic shock, he said.

"In some patients only one sting could trigger a life-threatening reaction," Fineman said.

Insect stings send more than 500,000 Americans to emergency rooms every year, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, and more than 40 people die annually from insect sting anaphylaxis.

To find out more about allergies, visit our topic page.

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