Mumbai, (The Hindu): One person died and two others were injured after being stung by wasps at Swatantryaveer Savarkar garden in Borivali on Wednesday.
The deceased was identified as Pankaj Shah (55), a resident of Sodawala Lane, who would often visit the garden. Shah suffered from a type of spondylitis due to which he had a curved spine from an early age. He was unmarried and dependent on his older brother Kirit, with whom he lived.
Around 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Shah was sitting on a garden bench near a jamun tree when a large number of wasps attacked him. He was stung on his head, arms and torso. Hearing his scream, garden staff came to his help. He was moved to the garden’s office. He was still conscious.
Ramanuj Dad (32) and Merrysta Rongavilla (46), visitors to the garden, also got stung while trying to help Shah.
Ankur Shah, Pankaj’s nephew, said, “I got a call from a garden staffer about the incident. I took my uncle, who was crying in pain, to a doctor. The doctor told us to go to a hospital. Then I took him to Karuna Hospital where he was kept in the ICU. He passed away in the hospital later that evening.”
His funeral was held on Thursday after an autopsy. A report is awaited which will clarify if the wasp sting directly led to his death.
Meanwhile, Mr. Dad and Ms. Rongavilla were treated in the general ward and discharged on Thursday.
“I have heard of people dying of wasp stings, but never seen a case. Shah was stung by too many wasps after which he went into shock. He was conscious when he was brought here and we kept him in the ICU, but his vitals did not improve,” Dr. Ravindra Bhatnagar, medical director, Karuna Hospital, said.
Dr. Bhatnagar also said there is no known anti-venom for a wasp sting.
On Friday, the portion of the garden including the jamun tree was fumigated by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) pest control department. killing the wasps.
Rajan Naringrekar, insecticide officer, BMC, said so far, they have identified it as a yellow-banded wasp. “It’s a type of wasp which lives in a hive. But they do not attack without provocation. I have never seen a death due to a wasp sting in my 30 years of service.”
He said most of the wasps were killed and the garden is safe now. Their hive in the tree trunk has been sealed with cement. Senior garden department officials said they will have to probe if there was negligence on part of the agency maintaining the garden.
Meanwhile, there was panic in the area on Friday as social media rumours of five deaths due to wasp stings did the rounds. People even flocked to the garden to check what had happened and why it was shut.
Paresh Mehta, a regular visitor to the garden, said, “I was stung by a wasp on Wednesday on my head, which led to a little swelling. I went to a doctor and took medicine. Today, I got this message on WhatsApp, and now I want to get checked again. We are all scared.”
Mr. Mehta said this had been happening for about 15 days, possibly due to rain.
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