Jenny Pomeroy - a wife, mother, and grandmother - died from the sting of a fire ant. She was relaxing at the pool of her Buckhead townhome late last week.
"This is just so hard to believe, so unexpected," says Laurie Irby, Jenny Pomeroy's friend.
Pomeroy worked for Prevent Blindess Georgia for 17 years. Her co-workers say she knew she was allergic to fire ants and had been hospitalized 20 years ago from another sting.
"Jenny knew she was allergic to fire ants and was always very carfeful, very aware of her surroundings," Irby says
In most people, the sting of fire ants usually causes only red welts, itching, and swelling. In those people who are allergic, the sting can cause an immediate, and sometimes
deadly, reaction like the one that killed Pomeroy.
Though Epi pens can prevent anylphalactic shock afer a sting, an allrgy specialist says a series of allergy shots can prevent allergic emergencies. "A lot of patients and doctors do not know that fire ant allergy can be cured with allergy shots," says Dr. Alan Redding. "Someone can take allergy shots and, within a very short amount of time, be desensitized to the fire ant and prevent a serious reaction from ever occurring," he adds.
Bait available at any hardware or home improvement store can kill fire ants. They're so common in Georgia and the Southeast, you've got to keep your eyes open. In those poeple who have a fire ant allergy, it can take only one bite to cause serious problems. Doctors say the risk of death increases in older patients who are allergic.
Jenny Pomeroy was 65. Wednesday, her condo homeowners association sent out an email to residents explaining what happened and expressing sorrow. Her friends and family are still coping with the loss.
"It's a real shock, we're still just kind of reeling and figuring out what to do now," Irby says.
For more information on fire ants and how to protect yourself from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), click here.
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