New EAACI position paper sheds light on insect sting and bite allergies 

New EAACI position paper sheds light on insect sting and bite allergies 

  • 07 August 2023
  • Research

A new position paper from the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, titled “Allergy to Stings and Bites from Rare or Locally Important Arthropods: Worldwide Distribution, Available Diagnostics, and Treatment,” offers detailed information for healthcare professionals on insect stings and bites and their potential to trigger serious systemic allergic reactions.  

The paper highlights the significance of Hymenoptera, a group of insects that includes bees and wasps, as the primary culprits behind systemic sting reactions. The vespid genera of Hymenoptera, which includes certain wasp species, are responsible for most systemic reactions, followed closely by honeybees. Depending on the global region, other Hymenoptera, including various ant species, also pose a risk of systemic reactions.  

The paper also identifies rare or locally important insects, like giant honeybees in Sri Lanka and Polypia paulista wasps in South America, which can cause serious systemic allergic reactions and, in some cases, fatalities. 

The paper summarises what is known about cross-reactivities between different insect venom allergens. For example, the research points out limited cross-reactivity between bumblebee and honeybee venom. Understanding these interactions is important to accurately diagnose and manage insect venom allergies.  

It is reassuring to note that while systemic allergic reactions do occur, they remain relatively rare. The paper details the availability of diagnostic tests and advancements in immunotherapies which can help to manage the condition for affected individuals. 

The new position paper is a valuable resource for healthcare professionals, helping them provide more accurate diagnoses and tailored treatment plans for those with insect venom allergies.  

Anaphylaxis UK has extensive evidence-based, clinically reviewed resources for patients on insect sting allergy and immunotherapy. See our bee and wasp sting campaign for more details.