Africanized Bee Activity is Up in Panama
As in any country, there are poisonous reptiles, snakes and insects in Panama. The latest insects making the news are the Africanized – or African – bees. Before we go into the statistics, let's get some facts straight.
As opposed to what you might read or see in the movies, African bees are not that much more deadly than other honey makers. What characterizes them is they tend to be more aggressive in protecting their territory and may do so up to 100 feet away if they feel threatened (noise, heat, intrusion, whatever). African bees also tend to swarm more than other species. The danger from a sting comes if you are allergic. Symptoms can include skin burning and itching, swelling or rash, nausea, shock - or in extreme cases, unconsciousness or even death. This of course requires a doctor. Otherwise treat a sting like you would any other.
Now for some statistics. Africanized bee sting activity in Panama is monitored by the Directorate of Operations of the Fire Department of Panama (CBP). Spokesmen have reported that there were 645 confirmed cases in January. 158 direct medical visits were attributed. The CBP doesn't track deaths directly attributed to the stings as it is not permitted to. (Who knows why?)
The areas that seem to be favorites are Los Santos and Panama Provinces. In the Panama City area, it's Alcalde Diaz, the (former) Canal Zone areas, Juan Diaz and Howard. Bee activity increases in Panama's dry season from mid-December to mid-April.
Should you panic? No. Problems with bees in Panama are rare. Most residents report that the bees they encounter on their properties or elsewhere are the tame variety. They just go on doing what normal bees do. Honey anyone?
Note: In another insect answer, we talked about the Dengue mosquito issue under the question, "In Panama, do I have to worry about malaria, yellow fever and other diseases we don't generally have in North America?"
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