Prevention and treatment of hymenoptera venom allergy: guidelines for clinical practice

Allergy. 2005 Dec;60(12):1459-70. doi: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.2005.00960.x.


Based on the knowledge of the living conditions and habitat of social Aculeatae a series of recommendations have been formulated which can potentially greatly minimize the risk of field re-sting. After a systemic sting reaction, patients should be referred to an allergy specialist for evaluation of their allergy, and if necessary venom immunotherapy (VIT). An emergency medical kit should be supplied, its use clearly demonstrated and repeatedly practised until perfected. This should be done under the supervision of a doctor or a trained nurse. Epinephrine by intramuscular injection is regarded as the treatment of choice for acute anaphylaxis. H1-antihistamines alone or in combination with corticosteroids may be effective in mild to moderate reactions confined to the skin and may support the value of treatment with epinephrine in full-blown anaphylaxis. Up to 75% of the patients with a history of systemic anaphylactic sting reaction develop systemic symptoms once again when re-stung. Venom immunotherapy is a highly effective treatment for individuals with a history of systemic reaction and who have specific IgE to venom allergens. The efficacy of VIT in yellow jacket venom allergic patients has been demonstrated also by assessing health-related quality of life. If both skin tests and serum venom specific IgE turn negative, VIT may be stopped after 3 years. After VIT lasting 3-5 years, most patients with mild to moderate anaphylactic symptoms remain protected following discontinuation of VIT even with positive skin tests. Longer term or lifelong treatment should be considered in high-risk patients. Because of the small but relevant risk of re-sting reactions, in these patients, emergency kits, including epinephrine auto-injectors, should be discussed with every patient when stopping VIT.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anaphylaxis / drug therapy
  • Anaphylaxis / prevention & control
  • Animals
  • Child, Preschool
  • Desensitization, Immunologic*
  • Epinephrine / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hymenoptera / immunology*
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / immunology
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / prevention & control*
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / therapy*
  • Insect Bites and Stings / immunology
  • Male
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Venoms / administration & dosage
  • Venoms / immunology*


  • Venoms
  • Epinephrine