Insect Anti-Venoms Are Becoming More Scarce

Insect Anti-Venoms Are Becoming More Scarce

The United States is full of individuals that are allergic to insect stings. As you can imagine, the summer season only increases these individuals’ fears of insect stings. Around one to three percent of American citizens live with insect-venom allergies. Unfortunately, these particular allergy sufferers have good reason to be fearful this summer. Allergists and public health experts within the US are warning the public about the current shortage of insect venom. These insect venoms are necessary in order to produce anti-venom treatments that can save numerous lives.

Insect anti-venom treatments are made from venom collected from individual insects, mainly honeybees, wasps and hornets. During the month of October of 2016, two major anti-venom manufacturers shut down operations as a result of contamination issues within their production plants. Many experts are hopeful that anti-venom treatments will, once again, become widely available before next summer. However, this summer doctors are rationing what little remains of anti-venom treatments in order to treat individuals that need the anti-venom therapies the most.

According to Dr. David Golden, associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University, twenty to thirty five percent of venom extracts have decreased since last October. This dramatic decrease in venom extracts could result in the deaths of hundreds, or even thousands, of people with allergies to insect venom.

Many of those who have allergies to insect venom carry epipens (epinephrine shots) in order to treat dangerous insect stings. However, for many people that are allergic to insect stings, EpiPens are not sufficient to prevent dangerous allergic reactions; instead these individuals require a different treatment known as venom-immunotherapy. Venom-immunotherapy is made from venom extracts, and is injected underneath the skin of individuals afflicted with more aggressive types of venom allergies. Many people requiring venom-immunotherapy are also worrying about a possible increase in the therapies price. Hopefully, with careful rationing, deadly allergic reactions resulting from insect stings can be avoided this summer.

Do you know anybody who requires venom-immunotherapy? If so, have they felt the consequences of the current shortage in any way?


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