Fish and shellfish allergy

Chem Immunol Allergy. 2015;101:152-61. doi: 10.1159/000375508. Epub 2015 May 21.


Fish and shellfish consumption has increased worldwide, and there are increasing reports of adverse reactions to fish and shellfish, with an approximate prevalence of 0.5-5%. Fish allergy often develops early in life, whilst shellfish allergy tends to develop later, from adolescence onwards. Little is known about the natural history of these allergies, but both are thought to be persistent. The clinical manifestations of shellfish allergy, in particular, may vary from local to life-threatening 'anaphylactic' reactions within an individual and between individuals. Parvalbumin and tropomyosin are the two major allergens, but several other allergens have been cloned and described. These allergens are highly heat and biochemically stable, and this may in part explain the persistence of these allergies. Diagnosis requires a thorough history, skin prick and in-vitro-specific IgE tests, and oral challenges may be needed for diagnostic confirmation. Strict avoidance of these allergens is the current standard of clinical care for allergic patients, and when indicated, an anaphylactic plan with an adrenaline auto-injector is prescribed. There are no published clinical trials evaluating specific oral immunotherapy for fish or shellfish allergy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Allergens / adverse effects
  • Allergens / immunology
  • Animals
  • Child
  • Cross Reactions
  • Female
  • Food Hypersensitivity / diagnosis*
  • Food Hypersensitivity / epidemiology*
  • Food Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Food Hypersensitivity / therapy
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology
  • Seafood / adverse effects*
  • Shellfish / adverse effects
  • Shellfish Hypersensitivity / diagnosis
  • Shellfish Hypersensitivity / epidemiology
  • Shellfish Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Shellfish Hypersensitivity / therapy
  • Young Adult


  • Allergens
  • Immunoglobulin E