Public awareness of the life-threatening potential of insect allergy is not sufficient in Van.
Prevalence and alternative therapy methods for bee and wasp allergy in Van
Article first published online: 4 JAN 2008
Volume 63, Issue 2, pages 246–247, February 2008
How to Cite
Onbaşı, K., Onbaşı, O., Eminbeyli, L. and Kaynak, C. (2008), Prevalence and alternative therapy methods for bee and wasp allergy in Van. Allergy, 63: 246–247. doi: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.2007.01588.x
- Issue published online: 4 JAN 2008
- Article first published online: 4 JAN 2008
- Accepted for publication 10 October 2007
- alternative therapy;
- complementary therapy;
- hymenoptera allergy;
- insect allergy;
- systemic anaphylactic reaction;
- venom allergy;
Systemic allergic reactions to Hymenoptera stings have been reported in 1–4% of the whole population in various large studies (1). The frequency of insect allergy may be evaluated by anamnesis-based cross-sectional studies and/or skin-test results and specific serum IgE concentration assays (2). Most studies had been performed in developed countries (3–5), but there is no enough data in developing countries like ours. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs reports, Turkey ranked as the fourth country in the world in terms of number of beehives and honey production, and annual honey production is increasing every year (6). Therefore, venom allergy is an important problem for our country. The aim of our study was to estimate, on the basis of an interviewer-administered questionnaire, the frequency of allergic sting reactions and the use of alternative therapy methods for it in our region. The study was carried out in 709 healthy people attending consecutively our University Hospital in Van to get a health report for driving licence, etc. 709 healthy clients were included in the study, and 564 (79.5%) of them were male and 145 (20.5%) were female. The mean age was 25.92 ± 8.46 years. There were no bee-keepers in our study group. The number of people reported at least one insect sting for all their lives was 606 (85.5%). The rate of people who had a bee sting during last year was 22.6%. The geometric mean of sting exposure was 3.92 ± 4.59. A wasp was recognized by 53.1% of subjects as their last stinging insect, honey bee in 38.8% and 8.1% were not able to identify the insect. The prevalence of severe systemic sting reactions was 1.2%, whereas the prevalence of mild systemic reaction was 5.4%. Large local reactions were reported in 11.5%, and 81.42% had normal or mild local reaction. Emergency room visits were reported in 5% of all cases. Family history for bee/wasp allergy was 11.7%. The cases had taken place commonly in August (18.3%); and in July (15.7%). None of the people who had systemic reactions had knowledge about adrenaline auto-injector and none of them was receiving immunotherapy for bee/wasp allergy.
The question ‘What did you do after the sting?’ was answered as follows: Only nine people (1.5%) had the knowledge that they had to remove the stinger, and five people (0.8%) had the knowledge to use antihistamines. Application rate for medical care was 1.8%. Cold compress application was used in 102 cases (16.8%). One case reported analgesic usage. Six people could not remember what they had done after the sting. Among all cases, 331 people (54.6%) reported that they had done nothing after the sting. Distributions of the alternative therapy methods used for bee or wasp stings are shown in Table 1.
|Alternative therapy methods||n|
|Applying clay to the stinger site||34|
|Applying tomato/tomato paste||24|
|Applying hot stones||16|
|Squeezing/suctioning the stinger site||9|
|Washing with tap water||8|
|Applying metal things||3|
|Let the stinger site to bleed||2|
|Applying warm compress||1|
|Applying sour fruit||1|
|Applying pressure with spoon||1|
|Applying pressure with hands||1|
|Applying iron water||1|
|Applying hot iron||1|
|Applying golden jewellery||1|
To our knowledge this is the first study on alternative therapy methods for bee/wasp allergy in eastern part of Turkey. Our study revealed that the public awareness for venom allergy is not enough. People did not know that there is a therapy method ‘venom immunotherapy’ and an ‘adrenaline auto-injector’ for emergency treatment in patients who had experienced severe systemic reactions. Many different traditional alternative methods are widely being used as the first choice of treatment among people although no scientific study has been performed to understand their effectiveness and there is no proof of their efficacy.
In conclusion; public knowledge about bee/wasp allergy, and behaviour for searching medical care, even among patients who had overcome life-threatening events, is not sufficient in eastern Turkey. Traditional alternative treatment usage is very common, which is not yet proven to be effective.
- 2Med Sci Monit 2004;10:324–329., , , , , , et al.
- 6Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Reports, Turkey. http://www.tarim.gov.tr: 5 January 2007.