Stinging Statistics

Wasp Stinger

Wasp Stinger

Robert Pese and Richard Lockey have reviewed management practices for hypersensitivity to insect stings.* They report a number of interesting statistics.

1) Between 56% and 94% of adults worldwide have been stung by an insect at least once.
2) 55% of people who move to an area with Imported Fire Ants report stings within 1 month.
3) 60% of the allergic reactions to insect stings are reported by males.
4) Insect sting allergy is present in only 0.15% to 0.8% percent of children.
5) Adults have a higher prevalence of sting allergies: 0.3 to 8.9 percent.
6) In the US 40-100 deaths per year occur due to insect sting anaphylaxis.
7) Insect stings account for about 30% of emergency room cases of anaphylaxis and 20% of all anaphylaxis related deaths.
8) Large local reactions to insect stings, such as swelling of an entire limb occurs in 2.4% to 26% of the population. Not surprisingly beekeepers report higher rates.

The authors discuss medical treatment of sting reactions (primarily administration of epinephrine) and recommend venom immunotherapy for people who have the most severe reactions.

*Pesek RD, Lockey RF. Management of Insect Sting Hypersensitivity: An Update. Allergy Asthma Immunol Res. 2013 May;5(3):129-137.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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12 Responses to Stinging Statistics

  1. I didn’t know that allergic reactions were more prevalent in males, very interesting.

  2. Pingback: Stinging Comments | Living With Insects Blog

  3. jmcobbrn says:

    Reblogged this on Confessions of a School Nurse and commented:
    Some interesting facts on insect stings. You wouldn’t think that as a nurse I deal with bugs, but I do, lots of them. Bed bugs, lice, ticks, bees, and wasps all come into play in my office. Go and check out the rest of Living with Insects Blog, learn the truth about your favorite and least favorite bugs.

  4. Alisha says:

    I never knew that venom immunotherapy could be used for people who have severe reactions to insect stings.

  5. Colleen Jones says:

    It is very surprising to me that the percentage of insect sting allergies is so low. I would assume that this percentage would be much higher than the low percentage stated in the article. I also am also curious as to why this percentage is higher in adults than in children.

  6. nbrinkman says:

    It is interesting that adults have a higher allergic reaction rate than children.

  7. Ivy Brock says:

    I found it interesting that children have such a low insect sting allergy rate.

  8. DamonWahl says:

    The first thing I found interesting was that bee stings are more prevalent in areas with fire ants. Secondly I was surprised to see that stings are more common in Males and adults compared to females and children. Overall these statistics were new and interesting to me.

    • jjneal says:

      I think it is the fire ant stings that are more common in areas with fire ants. People who don’t grow up around them don’t know to look out for them and avoid them, and get stung.

  9. Mandilin7 says:

    I was very surprised to hear that 30% of anaphylaxis cases are caused by insect stings. Although after thinking about it, it makes since seeing that there are a large percent of insects that can cause this reaction.

  10. Andrew Kapitan says:

    I thought it was surprising that there is a higher percentage of insect stings in adults, than in children. I always thought that adults would be more knowledgeable on what to avoid.

  11. Ben says:

    I found it interesting that the number of children that have insect allergies is significantly lower than the number of adults that have the affliction

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