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Case Report

Ant bite causing acute oliguric renal failure – A case report

Department of Medicine, AIIMS, New Delhi, India
Department of General Medicine, Calicut Medical College, Kozhikode, Kerala, India
Corresponding author: K. Adarsh Aayilliath, Department of Medicine, AIIMS, New Delhi, India.
This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-Share Alike 4.0 License, which allows others to remix, transform, and build upon the work non-commercially, as long as the author is credited and the new creations are licensed under the identical terms.

How to cite this article: Aayilliath KA, Geetha P. Ant bite causing acute oliguric renal failure – A case report. Glob J Health Sci Res, doi: 10.25259/GJHSR_4_2023


Ant bites usually cause mild local reactions without significant complications. Extensive bites may lead to subclinical myonecrosis or secondary bacterial infection. Here, we present a case of acute renal failure as a rare complication of extensive bites by carpenter ants. The patient improved on supportive management and hemodialysis.


Acute kidney injury
Ant bite


Order Hymenoptera of Class Insecta consists of Apidae (bees), Vespidae (wasps), and Formicidae (ants). Their sting/bite is an important health concern. Usually, they produce allergic or hypersensitive reactions, multiple stings can produce rhabdomyolysis, hepatic, and renal dysfunction; these are more with bees and wasps. Ant bites are common in the general population. Other than producing itching and mild inflammatory reactions, serious systemic complications are very rare. This unique case of multiple ant bites in a male person has resulted in severe oliguric renal failure.


A 44-year-old male with no comorbid illness and a history of chronic alcohol intake had a fall on a night after binge alcohol (whisky) intake following which he was extensively bitten by ants all over his body including his face. He developed pain and itching at that site and was treated with iv fluids and paracetamol from a local hospital. After 2 days, he developed generalized edema followed by oliguria. No history of high colored urine or frothing of urine. No dyspnea, orthopnea, chest pain, vomiting, muscle cramps, jaundice, and abdominal pain. No history of seizures. No history of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug intake. No history of fever.

On examination, he was conscious, and oriented. Periorbital puffiness was present. No pallor, icterus, cyanosis, and clubbing. Small tender inguinal lymph nodes present bilaterally. Bilateral lower limb edema and scrotal edema was present. Extensive ant bite marks were present all over his body [Figure 1]. The ants were identified as carpenter ants [Figure 2]. No stigmata of chronic liver disease.

Figure 1:: (a) Multiple ant bites over leg, (b) multiple ant bites over neck, and (c) multiple ant bites over hand.
Figure 2:: (a-c) Carpenter ants in the premises of the patient’s home.

Pulse-88/min, regular; blood pressure-160/90 mmHg; respiratory rate-18/min, regular; and the patient were febrile. His urine output was 200 mL over 24 h.

Chest-no evidence of pleural effusion; abdomen-free fluid present; cardiovascular system-JVP (Jugular venous pressure) elevated, no cardiomegaly, normal heart sounds, and no pericardial rub; and nervous system-no focal deficits.

A provisional diagnosis of fluid overload probably due to acute oliguric renal failure was kept and investigated. The etiologies considered were as follows:

  • Toxin-induced acute tubular necrosis (ATN)

  • Toxin-induced acute interstitial nephritis (AIN)

  • Rhabdomyolysis-induced ATN or

  • Infection-related acute glomerulonephritis.


Urine routine microscopy – white blood cells – 3–5/hpf, red blood cells-nil, and tubular casts present.

Ultrasound abdomen – ascites present, liver echoes normal, normal sized kidneys with raised echoes, and normal corticomedullary differentiation.

Peripheral smear – Normal.

Ascitic fluid study – High serum-ascites albumin gradient.

He was given one session of hemodialysis and his urine output improved.

Since there was no significant elevation of creatine phosphokinase to suggest rhabdomyolysis, no evidence of hemolysis in peripheral smear and no evidence of chronic kidney disease, a final diagnosis of acute kidney injury (AKI) due to toxin (ant venom) mediated ATN/AIN was considered. The renal function gradually improved over 2 weeks to become normal.

Hemoglobin-13.5 g/dL ESR-42 mm/h SGPT/SGOT-38/48 U
MCV-88.1 fl RBS-101 mg/dL ALP-47 U
RDW-14.2% Sodium/potassium-114/4.6 meq Urine R/E-RBC: 8–10
PC: 2–3
Total WBC count-9700 cells/mm3 Urea/creatinine-182/8.8 mg/dL PT INR–1.28
Differential count-N58L36M6 Bilirubin total/direct-0.5/0.2 mg/dL APTT–34/30 s
Platelet-1.66 lakh cells/mm3 Total protein/albumin-6.5/3.3 g/dL Calcium/PO4/Uric acid-6.7/6.3/9.2 meq

ESR: Erythrocyte sedimentation rate, RBS: Random blood sugar, SGPT: Serum glutamate-pyruvate transaminase, SGOT: Serum glutamate-oxaloacetate transaminase, ALP: Alkaline phosphatase, MCV: Mean corpuscular volume, RDW: Red cell distribution width, PC: Pus cells, WBC: White blood cells, RBC: Red blood cells, PT-INR: Prothrombin time-international normalized ratio, and APTT: Activated partial thromboplastin time

Urine protein creatinine ratio–0.2 S LDH–1251
(225–550) IU/mL
S C3–76.39 (80–165) mg/dL ECG-normal
S CPK–379 (30–170) IU/mL CXR-normal

S LDH: Serum lactate dehydrogenase, S C3: Serum C3, S CPK: Serum creatine phosphokinase, ECG: Electrocardiography, and CXR: Chest X-ray


Insect bite/sting envenomation

The renal effects of hymenoptera venom include ATN, rhabdomyolysis-related AKI, acute allergic interstitial nephritis, acute cortical necrosis, thrombotic microangiopathy-hemolytic uremia syndrome, nephrotic syndrome, and renal tubular acidosis. These are due to both immune mediated and toxic effects.[1] This case was interesting due to the fact that ant venom producing AKI has been very rarely reported in the literature. The culprit ants in our case were identified as carpenter ants. Evidence suggests that supportive therapy with or without dialysis will completely restore the kidney function without any recurrence.


Ant bites may result in serious systemic complications like AKI as suggested by this case and measures to prevent insect bites as well as early recognition and management are important.


Department of Medicine and Nephrology, Government Medical College, Kozhikode, Kerala.

Declaration of patient consent

The authors certify that they have obtained all appropriate patient consent.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

Financial support and sponsorship



  1. , , , . Hymenoptera stings and the acute kidney injury. EMJ Nephrol. 2013;1:68-75.
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