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Systemic reaction rates to field stings among imported fire ant–sensitive patients receiving >3 years of immunotherapy versus <3 years of immunotherapy

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As imported fire ants (IFAs) expand their range, hypersensitivity reactions to their stings are becoming a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States. Currently, IFAs whole body extract (WBE) immunotherapy is the mainstay of treatment for IFA hypersensitivity but the optimal duration of treatment is unknown. A questionnaire was administered to patients diagnosed with IFA venom hypersensitivity based on history and the presence of IFA venom–specific IgE who had been offered immunotherapy. The patients were grouped into those who received ≥3 years of immunotherapy and those who received <3 years of immunotherapy. Forty of the 272 patients initially identified were successfully contacted (14%) with 6 patients being excluded. Of these patients, 19 reported having received <3 years of IFA immunotherapy (reduced course) and 15 stated they had been given >3 years of immunotherapy (complete course). Subsequent field stings were reported by 18 (95%) of the reduced course groups and 14 (93%) of the complete course group with 1 person from each group (6 and 7%, respectively) experiencing a systemic reaction. There were no significant differences between the two groups in the number of patients with subsequent field stings or systemic reactions after subsequent IFA stings. Less than 3 years of IFA immunotherapy may offer long-term protection against IFA hypersensitivity reactions although additional studies with more subjects and controls are necessary before definitive conclusions may be made.

Keywords: Allergen; desensitization; duration of immunotherapy; field sting; hypersensitivity reactions; immunotherapy; imported fire ant; long-term protection; venom; whole body extract

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Pediatrics, United States Air Force Academy, Colorado 2: Department of Allergy and Immunology, Wilford Hall Medical Center, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas

Publication date: July 1, 2007

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  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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