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Original Article


Incidence of Anaphylaxis and Subtypes of Anaphylaxis in a General Hospital Emergency Department


M Moro Moro,1 MA Tejedor Alonso,1 J Esteban Hernández,2 MV Múgica García,1 A Rosado Ingelmo,1 C Vila Albelda1

1Allergy Unit, Hospital Universitario Fundacion Alcorcón, Madrid, Spain
2Preventive Medicine and Public Health Department, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Alcorcón, Madrid, Spain

J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 2011; Vol. 21(2): 142-149



Background: The absence of large-scale international studies means that data on anaphylaxis in emergency departments in different geographic areas are still necessary.

Objective: To determine the incidence of anaphylaxis and subtypes of anaphylaxis and their distribution by age group in the emergency department of Hospital Universitario Fundación Alcorcon, Alcorcon (Madrid), Spain.

Methods: Our study was performed between 2004 and 2005. We used the definition of anaphylaxis established by the NIAID-FAAN Symposium. Patient information was collected from the electronic clinical records of the emergency department using alphanumeric strings to identify acute allergic illnesses. This strategy recovered 91.7% of all anaphylaxis episodes in a pilot study.

Results: We observed a crude cumulative incidence of 0.9 episodes of anaphylaxis per 1000 emergency episodes (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.8-1.1), and 0.8 episodes per 1000 people (95% CI, 0.7-0.9). Standardized cumulative incidence of anaphylaxis according to the Standardized European Population was 1.1 (95% CI, 0.9-1.2). On analyzing the 213 cases of anaphylaxis, we discovered that the main cause was food (28.6%), followed by drugs (28.2%), unknown causes (27.2%), Anisakis (10.8%), Hymenoptera venom (3.3%), exercise (2.4%), and latex (0.9%). Food-induced anaphylaxis was less frequent in all groups older than the 0-4 age group in both reference populations (people who attend the emergency department and the general population).

Conclusions: The cumulative incidence of anaphylaxis in our emergency department is low. Anaphylaxis by foods is more frequent in the 0-4 year group than in the other age groups. Drugs and food are the most frequent causes of anaphylaxis in our emergency department.

Key words: Incidence. Anaphylaxis. Emergency department. Subtypes.