Background: Wasp stings usually cause local reactions such as itching, urticaria, angioedema and anaphylaxis. Life-threatening complications following multiple wasp stings is relatively rare and unexpected. However, rhabdomyolysis and acute respiratory distress syndrome following wasp stings are possible.
Case presentation: A middle-aged male worker was stung by a swarm of wasps all over his body while attacking a wasp’s nest. He had pain, a swollen face and multiple blisters on his entire body. He initially received the standard treatment of intravenous antihistamine, anesthetic and steroid medications. On admission day, his urine output progressively decreased in volume and turned from clear to bloody in appearance, with the color tending to become progressively darker. A serum creatinine of 0.87 mg/dL and a creatinine phosphokinase of 1403 IU/L at admission confirmed rhabdomyolysis. The following day, his serum creatinine and creatinine phosphokinase rose, with the development of tachypnea with desaturation; a chest radiograph showed bilateral diffuse lung infiltration. He was subsequently diagnosed with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). A medical record review revealed that he had received only 1150 ml of intravenous fluid in 8 hours. Consequently, his ARDS may have been caused by an anaphylactic reaction to the wasp toxin rather than by a cardiogenic cause or volume overload. He was intubated and transferred from the general ward to the intensive care unit for close clinical monitoring. Mechanical ventilation and intravenous fluid support were given to achieve the goal of a minimum urine output of 1 ml/kg/hr. His clinical and biochemical pictures started to improve and normalize from the fourth day after ICU admission.
Conclusions: Wasp stings may cause both rhabdomyolysis and acute respiratory distress syndrome. Early detection and immediate supportive treatment is the mainstay to reduce morbidity and mortality in such cases.