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Original Article


Efficacy of Venom Immunotherapy in  Beekeepers


K Münstedt,1 D Wrobel,1 M Kalder2

1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospital Giessen and Marburg, Justus Liebig University, Giessen, Germany
2Department of Gynecology and Gynecological Endocrinology and Oncology, University Hospital Giessen and Marburg, Philipps University, Marburg, Germany

J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 2010; Vol. 20(1): 58-62



Introduction: We previously found that some beekeepers continue beekeeping even after experiencing systemic allergic reactions. The present study was performed to collect data on the experience of beekeepers who underwent desensitization and continued beekeeping. The results are important for future counseling in this group of patients, and they show the effectiveness of desensitization under real conditions.

Methods: With the help of German and American beekeeping journals, we asked beekeepers who had undergone desensitization to participate. Data were obtained using a newly developed questionnaire and supplemented by reports obtained from the physicians who treated the allergy.

Results: We sent a questionnaire to each of the 73 beekeepers who responded to our call, and 63 (86.3%) questionnaires were returned. The vast majority of participants were hobby beekeepers who developed signs of allergy after a median of 2 years’ beekeeping (mean, 4.27 years) and a median of 15 stings (mean, 51 stings). Additional allergies were reported by 35 beekeepers. Forty-three beekeepers were evaluated to determine the effectiveness of desensitization. The average number of bee stings after desensitization was 107 (median 18). All but one reported no longer having allergic responses; however, in the case of those that did, the severity of the allergic symptoms
improved significantly.

Conclusion: To our knowledge, this study is the fi rst to provide data on the experience of beekeepers who continue their activity after
desensitization. Our results show that desensitization can result in a complete absence of symptoms after re-exposure to bee stings.

Key words: Bee venom. Allergy. Beekeeper. Venom immunotherapy. Desensitization.