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Red Fire Ants Injure 105 Students in Anhui
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One hundred and five high school students suffered rashes and water blisters after being stung by red fire ants in east China's Anhui Province, local authorities said Friday.

The patients, from the Yongning High School in Dingyuan County, were hospitalized last Sunday after being encountered with the tiny beasts, a spokesman with the county government said.

Initial investigation shows that the students were stung by red fire ant, or solenopsis invicta, which originated in South America, entered North America in the 1930s and proceeded to Australia, New Zealand and China's Taiwan in early 21st century.

The pest devour vegetation and seriously injure people and animals that disturb them. Repeated stings from a swarm could lead to chest pains, nausea, shock or in extremely rare cases, coma and death.

The local government and the school had sprayed pesticides to kill the harmful ants and no new cases have been reported since Wednesday, the government spokesman said.

One of the patients has recovered and gone back to class while the others are still being treated, he said.

(Xinhua News Agency October 14, 2006)

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