In his career as a doctor, Squamish’s medical director said he’s never treated so many wasp stings as he has during the past few weeks.
“I think it is definitely the worst summer I’ve seen for the last 30 years,” said Dr. Richard Cudmore.
During the height of the black and yellow invasion — between mid-July and mid-August — Squamish General Hospital’s emergency room saw between four and eight people with stings through its doors per day. The hospital used up its immediate supply of Benadryl, which is an antihistamine, during the Squamish Valley Music Festival in August.
“It is starting to settle now,” Cudmore noted on Tuesday (Sept. 10).
Less than five per cent of the population have anaphylactic reactions to wasp and bee stings, Cudmore said. People with a history of severe allergic reactions should carry an Epi-pen with them, he said, noting many people have one at home and one in their vehicle.
“We are more than happy to see people,” Cudmore said of those with concerns about stings.
Mountain bikers have been subject to wasp stings, said Jeff Cooke, president of the Squamish Off-Road Cycling Association (SORCA). Hives have been found beside popular riding trails, including Cake Walk and the Powerhouse Plunge.
Mountain bikers started reporting stings on SORCA’s Facebook page around mid-July. Since then there’s been at least two reports of stings per week, Cooke said.
“They are pretty bad this year,” he said, noting that wasps have attacked riders during some of Squamish’s big events, including Just Another Bike Race (JABR).
Cooke was stung two weeks ago while riding the Powerhouse Plunge. It took 10 days for swelling around the sting to subside, he said. Cooke advises people enjoying Squamish’s outdoor recreation to be safe. If you’re allergic to wasps or hornets, carry a Epi-pen. Either way, Cooke recommends carrying a couple of diphenhydramine, which normally goes under the brand name Benadryl.