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Mayor of Quebec town dies after being stung by wasps

Multiple wasp stings caused the death of the mayor of La Prairie in Quebec.

The mayor of La Prairie on Montreal's South Shore died Sunday after being stung several times by wasps.

Lucie Roussel, 51, was at her cottage in Stratford, 250 km east of Montreal. She stepped on a wasp's nest while gardening. Ambulance officials say she was stung over a dozen times, mostly on her legs. An EpiPen was administered but Roussel died later in hospital. Spokespeople for the mayor say she did not have allergies to wasp stings.

Emergency room physician Dr. Mitch Shulman said that people don't have to be allergic to have a bad reaction or even die after suffering multiple wasp stings.

"The venom from all the stings can cause shock, affect the respiratory tract, alter the beating of the heart," Shulman said.

Shulman said most people don't know they are allergic until they are stung.

He said an EpiPen can help but it must be administered right away and only helps delay the reaction until proper medical care can be provided. Shulman said reactions, even fatal ones, can be very quick.

A lawyer by trade, Roussel was elected mayor in 2005. She had been a municipal councillor since1999. She was a candidate for the Quebec Liberal Party in the 2012 provincial election but was defeated. She sat on several committees and boards including that of the Union of Quebec Municipalities and the Régie Intermunicipale de Police Roussillon.

Politicians of all stripes expressed shock at the news and extended their condolences, including Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard and Montreal mayor Denis Coderre. The flags at municipal buildings in La Prairie were lowered to half-staff Monday. Town officials described Roussel as "a visionary" and "devoted."

She leaves behind her family including an 18-year-old daughter and a 19-year-old son.

Funeral arrangements were not yet announced.

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