In this study, we evaluated the prevalence of systemic reactions to hymenoptera stings in an adult general population, 20–60 years old. The protocol included a standardized questionnaire, skin tests to venom in subjects reporting a history of systemic reaction, and, in subjects reporting a history of severe local and systemic reactions, as well as in a control group, a radioallergosorbent test (RAST) to hymenoptera venoms. According to the questionnaire, 1.2% of the study population had a history of systemic reactions. Only 0.85% had both such a history and a positive skin test to venoms. RASTs were positive, for at least one venom, in 57% of subjects with a history of systemic reaction, 15.8% of subjects with a history of severe local reactions, and 6.0% of the control group. In conclusion, this study shows that systemic reactions are not uncommon in the general population. RASTs tests are not sensitive or specific enough to be considered, per se, for indications of allergy to venoms.
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