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Am J Trop Med Hyg. 1999 Sep;61(3):361-6.

A novel Fab-based antivenom for the treatment of mass bee attacks.

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  • 1Department of Chemical Pathology, St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London, United Kingdom.


The frequency of mass bee attacks has dramatically increased in the Americas following the introduction and spread of the aggressive Africanized 'killer' bee (Apis mellifera scutellata). As yet no specific therapy is available, which led us to develop an ovine Fab-based antivenom as a potential new treatment. Sera from sheep immunized against the venom contained high levels of specific antibodies, as demonstrated by ELISA and by small-scale affinity chromatography, against both whole (A. m. mellifera) venom and purified melittin. A nerve muscle preparation was used to show the myotoxic effects of the venom and neutralization by the antivenom. Antivenom neutralizing ability was also demonstrated using assays for venom phospholipase A2 and in vivo activities. Venom from both European and Africanized bees appeared identical when analyzed by acid-urea gel electrophoresis. This antivenom may therefore provide the first specific therapy for the treatment of mass envenomation by either European or Africanized 'killer' bees.

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