Severe reaction to wasp sting kills Athens man - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Severe reaction to wasp sting kills Athens man

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ATHENS, TN (WRCB) - The Athens community is remembering a man who touched the lives of many through his love for music.

Dr. Kelly Thomas, 40, died over the weekend after a severe reaction to a wasp sting.

To many in the music community, Dr. Thomas was known as a beloved tuba professor.

The Tennessee Tech University graduate was hired as a School of Music instructor at University of Tennessee- Knoxville just six months ago.

Thomas was also known as a family man devoted to his four kids and wife, Jana.

News of Thomas' death came as a shock to those that knew him.

A crowd-sourcing page was created shortly after raising more than $37,000 in just three days.

Dr. Marc Cromie at the Chattanooga Allergy Clinic says severe reactions after insect stings happen to more adults than children and that the first sting doesn't have to be severe for another to be life threatening.

“It sets up an allergy or antibodies against that particular venom from the honeybee or yellow jacket or wasp and so when you are re-stung, you can have a life threatening anaphylactic event,” he said.

Many with severe allergies carry epi-pens in the event of a severe reaction.

But Dr. Cromie says there is something you can do to turn a life threatening situation into one that's life saving through allergy shots.

In just six months, Dr. Cromie says they can drop someone's risk of death from 60-percent to just three percent.

“So eventually, you get built up to where you're getting two or three stings each month or each six weeks and that is enough to train your immune system to keep from overreacting so when you do get stung, you don't have reactions and it will save your life, that's amazing,” he added.

Dr. Cromie says if you're ever stung, be alert to reactions away from the sting sight like swollen lips or hives. That's a sign to see a doctor immediately.

Dr. Cromie says those allergy shots are covered by insurance because the condition is life threatening.

Funeral services for Dr. Kelly Thomas will be held Friday at 7:30 pm at Laycock-Hobbs Funeral Home in Athens. He will be buried on Saturday at 11:00 am at Clearwater Cemetery.

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