Two hundred and fifty bee keepers in the South of France, working seasonally, were clinically investigated by means of a questionnaire. Forty-three percent had presented anaphylactic symptoms and 7.0%, toxic reactions when stung by bees. The personal atopic history was found to be significantly (P < 0.01) elevated in bee keepers who experienced anaphylaxis. Total serum IgE and bee venom-specific IgE were titrated in 100 subjects. Total serum IgE was significantly elevated in allergic bee keepers (P= 0.02). Although bee venom-specific IgE were significantly (P < 0.01) higher in allergic bee keepers this parameter cannot discriminate between allergic and non-allergic bee keepers owing to a considerable overlap. Bee venom-specific IgG was assayed in seventy subjects. Their level was significantly (P < 0.001) higher in allergic and non-allergic bee keepers as compared with non-allergic blood donors and non-bee-keeping allergic patients. In both bee keeper groups there was no difference in bee venom-specific IgG titres.
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