Stinging insect allergy information for healthcare providers

Determining if your patient is a candidate for venom immunotherapy with whole allergen testing can be difficult as up to 59% of venom patients test positive for both bee and wasp venom.

That’s why Labcorp now offers component-resolved diagnostic testing to discriminate between true sensitization and cross-reactivity, improving specificity and:

  • Supporting successful venom immunotherapy
  • Minimizing side effects
  • Lowering treatment costs2

Identify culprit insects and guide the selection of therapy

While venom allergy testing can confirm a diagnosis, it cannot itself make a diagnosis nor reliably predict the severity of a reaction. Test results can guide the selection of venom immunotherapy (VIT).3,4

Who to test:

  • Patients with a recent severe sting anaphylaxis to identify the species and venom immunotherapy
  • Patients with a systemic sting reaction that is not severe

Patients with a large local sting reaction or those with a relative with a stinging insect allergy should not be tested.

 

People who have experienced an allergic reaction to an insect sting have a 60% chance of a similar or worse reaction if stung again.5

Stinging insect allergy information for patients

A normal, non-allergic reaction to an insect sting typically involves pain, swelling and redness near the site of the sting and possibly beyond.

A serious allergic reaction to an insect sting—which requires immediate medical attention—may include one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Hives, itching and swelling in areas other than the sting site
  • Abdominal cramping, vomiting, intense nausea or diarrhea
  • Tightness in the chest and difficulty in breathing
  • Hoarse voice or swelling of the tongue or throat, or difficulty swallowing
  • Dizziness or a sharp drop in blood pressure
  • Loss of consciousness or cardiac arrest

After immediate, emergency treatment of your serious allergic reaction to an insect sting, the next step is to ask your primary care provider how to prevent future allergic reactions.

A blood test can help identify the type of sting

You may be uncertain about which type of insect triggered your allergic reaction. Component-resolved diagnostic testing looks at the exact protein in an allergen that may be causing your allergic reaction to help identify the specific type of stinging insect (or insects) causing your reaction, such as honey bee, yellow jacket or paper wasp.

What to expect with a stinging insect allergy test

Available at your primary care provider’s office, a specialist’s office or at a Labcorp patient service center, you can get a blood-based specific IgE allergy test that:

  • Only requires a single blood draw
  • Is appropriate for children 3 months of age and older
  • Is not affected by prescription or over-the-counter medications

Along with a physical exam and your healthcare history, your provider can use information from your allergy test results to identify which stinging insect or insects may have caused your allergic reaction and prescribe the appropriate venom immunotherapy.

References

  1. Golden DB, Demain J, Freeman T, et al. Stinging insect hypersensitivity: A practice parameter update 2016. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2017;118(1): 28-54.
  2. Spillner E, Blank S, Jakob T. Hymenoptera allergens: from venom to “venome.” Frontiers in Immunology. 2014; 5: 1-7.
  3. Golden DB. Insect sting anaphylaxis. Immunol Allergy Clin North Am. 2007;27(2):261–vii.
  4. Children’s Minnesota. Chemistry: Allergen IGE, Wasp Venom. https://www.childrensmn.org/references/lab/chemistry/allergen-ige-wasp-venom.pdf.  Accessed 14 Jun 2022.
  5. Insect Sting Allergies. American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. https://acaai.org/allergies/allergic-conditions/insect-sting-allergies/ Accessed 15 July 2022.