Mosquitos do not sting; they bite. Mosquitos inject salivary proteins under the skin when they feed. The proteins elicit a response from the immune system that is typically local, consisting of swelling, redness and itching near the site of the bite. Occasionally, people will have more severe systemic reactions to mosquito bites. McCormack and colleagues* describe two patients who had systemic reactions to mosquito bites that led to anaphylaxis. This is a serious condition due to the widespread occurrence of mosquitoes during warm weather.
Two patients received immunotherapy, which involves exposure to the allergen under controlled conditions. The treatment was partially effective, reducing the severity of reaction in one patient, and resolved the condition in the other. Repeated exposure to insect bites or stings can eventually lead to increasingly severe allergic reactions. The use of repellents to minimize insect bites is a good precaution.
*McCormack DR, Salata KF, Hershey JN, Carpenter GB, Engler RJ. 1995. Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. 74: 39-44.
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