A SWARM of wasps stung a seven-year-old girl more than THIRTY times as she played at school.

Terrified Zoe Simpson desperately tried to escape as dozens of stinging insects crawled in her hair, over her face and down her jumper.

Her mum, Karen, swatted the wasps away as best she could, while Zoe's teachers ran her to safety. She was rushed to hospital where doctors treated her for the stings.

The attack happened at Hob Moor Primary School in Acomb, York, yesterday. Head teacher Karl Jarvis said teachers and pupils there were traumatised. Exterminators have since been to the school and destroyed the insects.

Karen said: "It was like something out of a horror film. It's every parent's worst nightmare, seeing their child being attacked, and being powerless to stop it."

But she said the attack could and should have been prevented - concerned parents had reported seeing wasps in the school grounds more than a fortnight ago.

Mother-of-three Karen had just dropped Zoe off when she heard her daughter screaming.

Karen, of Middleton Road, Acomb, said: "She was surrounded by wasps, crawling all over her. I panicked and tried to flap them away. Some teachers came out with a towel and we managed to get Zoe inside the building. We shut the door, but there were still wasps all over her."

They eventually had to put Zoe in the school's shower to kill the remaining insects and cool the pain of their stings. A teacher drove Zoe and Karen to hospital - the youngster had been stung so badly she was in agony by the time they arrived.

Zoe said: "I was stung 30 times, all over my body, and it hurt so much. I had been near the nest before, but the wasps had never bothered me. This time they came at me straight away. I tried to run away but they were too fast." Two other children were also stung, but not seriously.

Zoe's dad, Robert, said: "I have always told my kids not to be scared of wasps - but this was just terrifying. The fear will be with Zoe for a long time."

Mr Simpson said: "Since the reporting, nothing was done about the wasps, which I find disturbing. I send my children to school on the understanding that their health and safety are paramount."

No one from Sewell Education - the private company which provides facilities for the school - was available for comment.

Mr Jarvis said: "This has been absolutely awful and we are all in shock. There was a report on September 8 about wasps in the area, so we logged it with our facilities provider, who came straight out. They carried out a good search but found nothing and we had had no more reports.

"What happened came as a complete shock. Staff heard Zoe screaming and went running to help. The wasps had swarmed around her - they were in her hair and around her head.

"The only thing we can surmise is that the grass had just been cut and that may have disturbed the nest which was buried in the ground."

If you get attacked, don't panic

DON'T panic. That's the advice of York wasp expert Michael Archer.

Dr Archer said: "If wasps are coming at you in an attack, rather than standing there flapping, the best thing you can do is run away as quickly as possible. They will of course follow you, but once you get about 50 yards away from the nest, you should be reasonably safe."

Wasps emerge from their underground nests if they are disturbed by vibrations.

When you are stung by an insect such as a wasp, the area around the sting will swell up and go red and a raised mark will form. It will be quite painful and itchy. This will last for approximately 48 hours.

If you experience swelling or itching anywhere else on the body immediately after being stung, wheezing, headache, feeling sick, fast heart rate, feeling faint, difficulty swallowing, or a swollen face or mouth, you may need emergency treatment. Call 999 for an ambulance immediately as you may be having a generalised allergic reaction, and this can be fatal.