Andy Batty collapsed and died after being bitten by a horsefly. File photo: AFP

London - A father of four has died after suffering a massive allergic reaction to a horsefly bite.

Andy Batty, 48, collapsed in agony and was dead before paramedics arrived in a helicopter.

The six-foot-tall engineer went into anaphylactic shock while helping his daughter, Catherine, 17, ride her pony, Bess.

Two ambulances and the helicopter were scrambled to a field where Catherine had been riding at 12.30pm on Sunday, but Batty was pronounced dead at the scene.

On Thursday night, Dr Pamela Ewan, an allergy consultant at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, said: “Death from a horsefly bite is incredibly rare.

“Most people develop a small swelling and some will go on to develop an infection, but to suffer anaphylactic shock is pretty unheard of.”

She said it was likely that Batty had been bitten by a horsefly before, adding: “This then triggered his body’s immune system to create allergic antibodies.

“But he would need to be genetically predisposed to suffering such a severe reaction.”

Dr Bill Frankland, consultant allergist at the London Allergy Clinic, said: “The man will have probably died within 15 minutes of being bitten. It’s normally a very sudden death.”

But he added: “This is a very unusual case, people shouldn’t worry if they get bitten by a horsefly as the likelihood of someone being this allergic is extremely rare.”

Catherine had lived with her father since the keen rugby fan and former taxi driver separated from her mother several years ago.

Batty also had three children from a former marriage, James, Michael and Rachel.

On Thursday night, friends paid tribute to the “jolly giant”, of Brixham in Devon.

Chris Forster, chairman of Brixham Rugby Club, where Batty worked as a steward, said: “Andy’s death is very sad.

“I spoke to his daughter, who he was absolutely devoted to. It is very raw for her. She is in shock.

“He always did what he could to help. He was very well liked. Everyone at the club has been saddened by the news.”

Colleagues at KJ Engineering described Batty as fit, healthy and strong.

Manager Keith Iszard said: “Andy was a big fellow, very broad like a rugby front-row man. He could lift any weight.

“We couldn’t believe a small fly could knock him down.

“His death has come as a massive shock to everyone. Andy was a lovely man - a jolly giant, always very friendly and would volunteer to help anyone. Everyone liked him.”

Batty’s friend John Rugman, 61, said: “He was a fantastic father. He doted on Catherine.

“He was so proud of her. He was an absolutely fantastic man, he would do anything for anybody without question. He was a great friend and we’re absolutely devastated by the shocking news.”

Horseflies are members of the bloodsucking tabanidae family of insects.

They frequently attack humans and livestock and are regarded as pests because their bites can carry diseases and parasites. Horsefly bites are notoriously painful because - unlike a mosquito, which pierces the skin - the insect uses its powerful jaws to rip into the flesh so it can feast on blood.

They can cause rashes, dizziness, wheezing, swelling and infection, but anyone who has been bitten normally makes a full recovery. - Daily Mail