'Terrifying': Braidwood girl hospitalised after being engulfed by wasps

Evie Clark is lucky to be alive after being stung as many as 300 times by a swarm of what are believed to be European wasps this month.

Evie was playing by a creek at the Braidwood recreation reserve on April 11 when she fell on to a wasp nest.

Evie Clark, 7, and her mother Samara Zeitsch at their Braidwood home a week after Evie was stung up to 300 times when she fell into a wasp nest. Photo: Dion Georgopoulos

Evie Clark, 7, and her mother Samara Zeitsch at their Braidwood home a week after Evie was stung up to 300 times when she fell into a wasp nest. Photo: Dion Georgopoulos

The seven-year-old was first stung by one wasp before a swarm engulfed her as one of her friends ran off to get help.

When Evie's father Troy found her, she had blacked out, and he fended off wasps as he drove her to the local hospital.

Evie has recovered but her mother Samara Zeitsch said it was "touch and go".

When Evie got to Braidwood Hospital's emergency department she was given an adrenaline shot while nurses had to use a vacuum cleaner to capture the wasps covering her, including the ones stuck in her hair.

"They were in her underwear, in her shoes. It was terrifying," Ms Zeitsch said.

Doctors were concerned Evie might have another anaphylactic shock reaction despite the adrenaline shot fending off the initial episode.

She was airlifted from Braidwood to Canberra Hospital by the newborn and paediatric emergency helicopter after doctors spoke with toxicology experts in Sydney.

"This was an unprecedented number of stings she sustained, it was a bit unknown how it would unfold from there," Ms Zeitsch said.

By 3am, Evie's hands and face started to swell up and she was kept on fluids to keep her hydrated.

With that many stings, Ms Zeitsch said doctors told her it was the equivalent of being bitten by a brown snake.

Evie was in pain days after the stings, but made a recovery, albeit covered in welts.

"She's back home and she's doing well," Ms Zeitsch said. "It's very hard to face that reality that it was touch and go, we could've lost her."

Back home, Evie has had trouble sleeping and itchiness can bring her to tears but she's made of tougher stuff than most.

"She's always been a really healthy, robust child," her mum said.

Canberra biologist and wasp expert Dr Philip Spradbery said Evie was extremely lucky to be alive.

"That poor kid must have been in incredible pain," he said.

Wasps could produce an "alarm pheromone" which attracts more wasps to attack: "It's a perfect storm," Dr Spradbery said.

When he was a child in England, he and his friends would poke sticks down wasp nests for fun and then run.

"The wasp nests in Australia are now twice as big and twice as populated than in the UK," he said.

"You are likely to have 1000 or more wasps attack you."

If swarmed, cover your nose and mouth and get to hospital straight away, whether stung once or hundreds of times, Dr Spradbery said.

No deaths have been recorded in Australia from anaphylactic shock produced by wasp stings.

But the pain can last for a day, with the discomfort and itchiness from bites caused by bacterial infections because wasps' stingers aren't sterile.

The Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council has since found and removed two wasp nests from the overgrown creek area.

Signs at the site warn people they might encounter wasps.

A spokesman said nests were "often difficult to locate and residents are advised to check their yards".

"European wasps are becoming an increasing problem and will build nests in the ground, under old buildings, in hollow trees and rubble," the spokesman said.