South Carolina Gardener Killed by Fire Ants

A 68-year-old woman has died after she was stung by several fire ants while planting flowers.

Janet Wallace Roedl Shiansky was gardening Saturday when several ants ran up her sneaker and stung her foot. Her husband, Harry Shiansky, brushed them off and his wife went inside to dab ammonia on the stings, her family said.

A few minutes later he went inside to check on her and found her lying on a bed unresponsive with her sunglasses still on, said the couple's daughter, Ilene Shiansky.

Paramedics rushed Janet Shiansky to the hospital where she was revived, but her brain began to swell, her fever rose and she died Sunday afternoon, Ilene Shiansky said.

Doctors told the family that she suffered an allergic reaction to the ant stings which caused her airway to shut.

Only about 1 percent of people can react that way to ant stings, said Dr. Bill Simpson, director of the agromedicine program at the Medical University of South Carolina and Clemson University.

One to three people die in South Carolina each year because of fire ant stings, Simpson said.