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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1994 May;93(5):831-5.

Rate and quantity of delivery of venom from honeybee stings.

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  • 1Steele Memorial Children's Research Center, University of Arizona, Tucson.


To determine the rate and completeness of delivery of venom from honeybee stings, European bees were collected at the entrance of a hive and studied with the use of two laboratory models. In one model bees were induced to sting the shaved skin of anesthetized rabbits. The stings were removed from the skin at various time intervals after autotomization, and residual venom was assayed with a hemolytic method. In the other model the bees were induced to sting preweighed filter paper disks, which were weighed again after removal of the sting at various intervals. Results of both experiments were in agreement, showing that at least 90% of the venom sac contents were delivered within 20 seconds and that venom delivery was complete within 1 minute. The data suggest that a bee sting must be removed within a few seconds after autotomization to prevent anaphylaxis in an allergic person. The extensive variation found in the amount of venom delivered at each time point may explain inconsistencies in relationships among reactions to field stings, sting challenge testing, venom skin tests and RAST.

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