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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1989 Sep;84(3):331-7.

Late-onset allergic reactions, including serum sickness, after insect stings.

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  • 1Buffalo General Hospital, Department of Medicine, State University of New York 14203.


Allergic reactions after insect stings may have a delayed onset, differing from the usual immediate anaphylactic pattern. Ten patients, aged 6 to 78 years, had allergic reactions 1 to 2 weeks after an insect sting. Six patients had had multiple stings preceding the reaction. In two instances, immediate anaphylaxis also occurred. Four of the 10 patients had serum sickness-type reactions; two other patients had more severe anaphylactic symptoms, including throat edema. All patients in this group had venom-specific IgE; four of the 10 patients had serum venom-specific IgG. Eight patients subsequently received venom immunotherapy (VIT). There have been no reactions from seven re-stings. Five patients had generalized hives starting 6 to 24 hours after an insect sting. All patients in this group had venom-specific IgE; three patients have received VIT. Two other patients developed hives, one with throat edema 3 days after an insect sting. Both patients had high titers of serum venom-specific IgE; neither patient has received VIT, one patient because of extreme sensitivity. These observations suggest that after an insect sting, patients may develop delayed-onset allergic symptoms that range from typical anaphylaxis to serum sickness and are mediated by venom-specific IgE. VIT is recommended for patients with these reactions.

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