Anaphylaxis is a severe generalised or systemic hypersensitivity reaction that causes around 20 deaths each year, in the UK.1 However, if the condition is recognised and treated quickly and appropriately, the majority of cases will survive.2 There are a number of different causes of anaphylaxis, in which symptoms are caused by the release of inflammatory mediators from mast cells that can be triggered by allergen interaction with specific IgE on the Mast cell surface or can be non-IgE mediated.
Here we will consider the severe reactions associated with insect stings. These are thought to have occurred in 3% of adults and 1% of children and have occasionally been fatal at the first reaction. After a first attack, the patient should be warned that further exposure to the allergen will result in a further attack of anaphylaxis, but at the same time they should also be taught how to deal with it and supplied with the necessary treatment to control it.3
Insect bites and stings