Fisheries chairman dead after being stung by fire ants in New Taipei City

The chairman of the Tamsui Fisheries Association of New Taipei City died after suffering suspected anaphylactic shock following an attack by red fire ants, Saturday, June 12.

Zheng Kangzhong (鄭康忠), 48, was stung by the ants while on duty inspecting a road planning project at the Xiaguzi Fishing Port adjacent to the Port of Taipei, Saturday.

Zheng suffered from itching and swelling after returning home, and was sent to the hospital after his symptoms worsened.

Zheng was given first aid but eventually died. The exact cause of death is yet to be clarified.

The Council of Agriculture (COA) said that red fire ants are toxic and can easily cause physical discomfort. Elderly people, children, and diabetics should especially seek treatment immediately after being stung. The COA urged the public to avoid suspicious ants or raised ant hills.

The red fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) have been in Taiwan for 16 years, with Taoyuan City being the most severely affected area. Other infested areas include New Taipei City’s Tamsui and Gongliao Districts, Hsinchu County, Kinmen County, Taipei City, Keelung City, Yilan County and Hualien County.

Chen Qiaoyan, an assistant researcher at the Crop Environment Division of Taoyuan Farm told the media that venom from the sting of the red fire ant contains a toxic protein that causes pain like a fire burn. Allergic reactions can result in symptoms including redness and swelling of the face, hives, swelling of the throat, chest pain, difficulty speaking, and paralysis.

The COA said that if you are bitten you can treat the area with soap and water and apply ice, then seek medical attention as soon as possible. It is advised not to scratch or rub the stung area.

If you find suspicious ants or ant nests you can call toll-free: 0800-0950590 Red Fire Ant Notification Center.

red fire ant nest mounds.
Red fire ant mounds in Taoyuan City. Picture: Taoyuan Agricultural Station.
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