It is not clear how many people are
allergic to insect sting venom, because testing is
usually not done until after a first allergic reaction. In other words, you may
be allergic to an insect sting and not know it because you haven't been stung
by that insect yet.
About 10 out of 100 adults have large, localized
allergic reactions to insect stings.1 More serious,
systemic (whole-body) reactions occur in about 3 out of 100 adults and less than 1 out of 100 children.2
Allergies to insect stings cause around 40 deaths a year in the U.S.,
usually in adults over the age of 45 and sometimes in young children.1
It is difficult to predict whether you will have allergic reactions
to future stings. After you develop an allergy to an insect's venom, it may
become more severe each time you are stung, or you may not have an allergic
reaction to the next sting—especially if you received treatment for the first
sting allergy. Insect sting allergies may decline or fade over time,
particularly in children.
Golden DB (2009). Insect allergy. In NF
Adkinson Jr et al., eds., Middleton's Allergy: Principles and Practice, 7th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1005–1017. Philadelphia:
Golden DB, et al. (2011). Stinging insect
hypersensitivity: A practice parameter update 2011. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 127(4): 852–854.e23.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.