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Keywords:

  • venom allergy;
  • beekeeping;
  • venom immunotherapy;
  • anaphylaxis;
  • alternative treatment;
  • epinephrine autoinjector;
  • systemic reaction

Background

The objective of this work was to determine the characteristics of allergic reactions that may occur after a bee sting and alternative treatment methods in Turkish beekeepers.

Methods

A written questionnaire was administered to beekeepers from the Ordu, Samsun, Sinop, Amasya, and Çorum provinces located in the Central Black Sea Region of Turkey.

Results

The study included 301 beekeepers, 295 (98%) of whom were male. Their mean age was 48.2 ± 11.5 years. The mean beekeeping duration was 15.3 ± 10.5 years. A total of 270 participants (89.9%) had a history of bee stings in the previous 12 months. Systemic reactions, large local reactions, and local reactions were seen in 21 (6.9%), 193 (64.1%), and 12 (4.0%) beekeepers, respectively. The face was the most frequently stung body site, and swelling generally occurred in the eyelids. The size of the swellings decreased within 12 to 24 hours in 259 (86.1%) beekeepers. The size of the swellings was 1 × 2 cm in diameter in 157 (52.2%) beekeepers. Natural protection against bee stings had developed by 12 months in 140 (46.5%) beekeepers. In total, 61.5% of the beekeepers applied alternative treatments (eg, garlic, onion water, yogurt), whereas 14.0% (3/21) were admitted to a hospital with a systemic reaction. In total, 10.6% and 14.2% of beekeepers were aware of adrenaline auto-injector and venom immunotherapy, respectively.

Conclusion

This study indicates insufficient knowledge and attitudes among Turkish beekeepers regarding bee sting reactions.