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Swarming bees attack teachers, a dozen children at play at Pittsburgh school

Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
Bees crawl around on the backstop at a ball field at Carmalt Elementary School in Overbrook, Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Reports of 12-15 students who were attending summer camp were stung by these bees that were living inside the poles of the backstop.

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013, 1:42 p.m.

Kaleb Ewing says he really isn't afraid of bugs — except for bees.

“I don't like them because they can sting you,” said Kaleb, 7, who was among a dozen students and two teachers attacked by bees on Tuesday afternoon at the Pittsburgh Public Schools' Carmalt Academy of Science and Technology in Brookline.

About 600 children in kindergarten through fifth grade from south Pittsburgh neighborhoods were at the school for the Summer Dreamers camp, said Ebony Pugh, a spokeswoman for the school district.

Students were out for recess playing on the ball field about 1 p.m. when the bees began to sting, she said.

Two city paramedic crews and an emergency physician responded.

None of the stings appeared to cause allergic reactions or were otherwise severe enough to require transport to a hospital, Pugh said.

Medics treated the stings with ice and topical ointment, she said.

“All the parents of the children who were stung were notified and had the option of taking their children home,” Pugh said. “But I believe all of them remained at the school for the rest of the day.”

Children were dismissed from camp at 4 p.m.

The outcome of stings from bees, wasps, hornets and fire ants can range from mild discomfort or pain to a lethal reaction for people who are allergic to the insects' venom, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

The CDC estimates that some 90 to 100 people die in the United States each year from allergic reactions to bug stings and bites.

Yellow warning tape went up near the ball field's backstop, where several dozen bees could be seen zipping back and forth as they noshed on clover and went in and out of a bolt hole on a rusting metal pole nearby.

Pugh said a crew from the district's facilities division would check to see if hives needed to be removed or if spraying might be warranted.

As he pointed to a tiny raised prick on his right forearm, Kaleb said getting stung didn't hurt much.

“It was like a pinch,” he said. “I'm OK.”

Tony LaRussa is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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