A Central Georgia woman died over the weekend after her family said she stepped on a fire ant pile at her home and suffered a severe allergic reaction.

The woman, identified by the Gwinnett County Medical Examiner’ Office as 43-year-old Cathy Weed of Lawrenceville, died Saturday.

Chad Johnson, an investigator with the coroner’s office told USA TODAY the office conducted an autopsy on Weed Monday.

Her cause of death and manner of death, Johnson said, are pending.

A reported severe allergic reaction

Weed’s family could not immediately be reached by USA TODAY, but loved ones told local outlet WSB said Johnson died at her home in Lawrenceville, about 30 miles northeast of downtown Atlanta.

According to her family, Weed, who is survived by a teenage son, had a severe allergic reaction to the fire ants and she died before she could get to her medicine.

Fact check: Bait is the most effective way to kill fire ants, expert says

Fire ants ‘repeatedly inject venom’

Fire ants clamp onto their victims with strong jaws and repeatedly inject venom into a human with their stingers, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Symptoms of the sting include burning sensations, itches and rashes.

Fire ants are usually found in the southern region of the U.S. and in places as far north as Tennessee, said Wizzie Brown, a pest management specialist at Texas A&M University. While they are a year-round species, they tend to be more prevalent in the spring and fall 

According to Brown, the most effective way to kill a fire ant mound is fire ant bait.

Contributing: Ana Faguy

Natalie Neysa Alund covers breaking and trending news for USA TODAY. Reach her at nalund@usatoday.com and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.


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