Epidemiology of insect-venom anaphylaxis

Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2008 Aug;8(4):330-7. doi: 10.1097/ACI.0b013e32830638c5.


Purpose of review: Knowledge of the epidemiology, natural history and risk factors of insect-venom allergy is crucial for improving the clinical management of allergic patients. This review focuses on the recent research on these aspects of Hymenoptera-sting anaphylactic reactions.

Recent findings: The latest data from population-based studies of anaphylactic reactions due to Hymenoptera stings, as well as those extrapolated from studies of epidemiology of anaphylaxis due to any cause are reviewed. The topic of biphasic anaphylactic reactions due to insect stings is also examined. Although no parameter has been identified that can predict which sensitized individuals will have a future anaphylactic reaction, several factors associated with the severity of a systemic resting reaction are known and emphasized here.

Summary: As half of individuals with fatal sting reactions had no documented history of previous systemic reaction, we need to further improve the knowledge of the natural history and risk factors, especially in asymptomatic-sensitized individuals. Moreover, and no less important, the epidemiological studies on sting anaphylaxis conducted in the 2000s continue to reveal the poor management of allergic patients and the startling lack of awareness of the efficacy of venom immunotherapy. These findings indicate the urgent need to educate the general population and doctors on the management of venom-allergic patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Anaphylaxis / chemically induced
  • Anaphylaxis / epidemiology*
  • Anaphylaxis / immunology
  • Anaphylaxis / therapy
  • Animals
  • Arthropod Venoms / adverse effects
  • Arthropod Venoms / immunology
  • Humans
  • Hymenoptera*
  • Insect Bites and Stings / epidemiology*
  • Insect Bites and Stings / immunology
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors


  • Arthropod Venoms