Imported fire ant hypersensitivity. Studies of human reactions to fire ant venom

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It is now apparent that venom and venom components of the Hymenoptera superfamilies of Apida (honeybee) and Vespida (wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets) are becoming increasingly important in the diagnosis and treatment of hypersensitivity reactions. Stings from fire ants (superfamily Formicidae, family Myrmicinae) have also been recognised as causes of systemic reactions in man. Fire ant venom is unique in its composition, consisting mainly of alkaloids in aqueous suspension with only trace amounts of protein. This study compares the skin reactivity of fire ant venom and synthesized alkaloid components with the whole body extract (WBE) of fire ants and other Hymenoptera. The venom as well as the WBE of fire ants was found useful for skin test diagnosis of sensitive individuals. There appear to be crossreactive or shared antigens between fire ant venom, WBE, and WBE of other Hymenoptera. Successful passive transfer of skin reactivity to nonsensitive individuals was accomplished with sera from sensitive individuals. Loss of this passive transfer by heating sera at 56 °C for 4 hr is evidence in favor of IgE mediating the positive skin test to the venom. © 1976.




James, F. K., Pence, H. L., Driggers, D. P., Jacobs, R. L., & Horton, D. E. (1976). Imported fire ant hypersensitivity. Studies of human reactions to fire ant venom. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 58(1 PART 1), 110–120.

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