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Fever, urticaria, lymphadenopathy, and protracted arthralgia and myalgia resistant to corticosteroid therapy

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Allergen immunotherapy is commonly incorporated in the management of allergic rhinoconjunctivitis, allergic asthma, and insect sting hypersensitivity. It is generally safe, but systemic reactions occasionally occur, mainly of the immediate type and rarely of the delayed type. We report a case of a 50-year-old man with allergic rhinoconjunctivitis on immunotherapy for 3 years and then received an injection from another patient's extract. The latter contained a higher concentration of house-dust mite and pollens of grasses, trees, and weeds. It also contained molds that the patient's correct extract did not have. Within half an hour, he developed a systemic reaction that resolved with symptomatic treatment. Two weeks later, he received one-half of his usual immunotherapy dose. Within a week, he developed urticaria, arthralgia, myalgia, fever, and lymphadenopathy. Laboratory abnormalities included leukocytosis, elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate, hematuria, and elevated liver enzymes. Oral corticosteroid therapy for 3 weeks was ineffective. He developed significant myalgia and apparent mood changes, attributable to corticosteroid intake. After a single plasmapheresis, he felt remarkable improvement within <24 hours. Corticosteroid therapy was gradually withdrawn over 10 weeks without relapse of symptoms. This is a rare case of probable serum sickness after the administration of a wrong allergy immunotherapy extract. However, a causal relationship could not be proven. The response was poor to prolonged corticosteroid therapy but was remarkable to one plasmapheresis.
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Keywords: Allergen extracts; allergen immunotherapy reactions; arthralgia; immunotherapy; plasmapheresis; serum sickness; urticaria

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Section of Allergy and Immunology, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, Shreveport, Louisiana, USA

Publication date: September 1, 2011

More about this publication?
  • 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 and by having the potential to directly impact the quality of patient care. AAP welcomes the submission of original works including peer-reviewed original research and clinical trial results. Additionally, as the official journal of the Eastern Allergy Conference (EAC), AAP will publish content from EAC poster sessions as well as review articles derived from EAC lectures.

    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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