Hymenoptera stings.Clin Tech Small Anim Pract 2006; 21(4):194-204CT
The medically important groups of Hymenoptera are the Apoidea (bees), Vespoidea (wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets), and Formicidae (ants). These insects deliver their venom by stinging their victims. Bees lose their barbed stinger after stinging and die. Wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets can sting multiple times. Most deaths related to Hymenoptera stings are the result of immediate hypersensitivity reactions, causing anaphylaxis. Massive envenomations can cause death in nonallergic individuals. The estimated lethal dose is approximately 20 stings/kg in most mammals. Anaphylactic reactions to Hymenoptera stings are not dose dependent or related to the number of stings. Bee and wasp venoms are made up primarily of protein. Conversely, fire ant venoms are 95% alkaloids. Four possible reactions are seen after insect stings: local reactions, regional reactions, systemic anaphylactic responses, and less commonly, delayed-type hypersensitivity. Clinical signs of bee and wasp stings include erythema, edema, and pain at the sting site. Occasionally, animals develop regional reactions. Onset of life-threatening, anaphylactic signs typically occur within 10 minutes of the sting. Diagnosis of bee and wasp stings stem from a history of potential contact matched with onset of appropriate clinical signs. Treatment of uncomplicated envenomations (stings) consists of conservative therapy (antihistamines, ice or cool compresses, topical lidocaine, or corticosteroid lotions). Prompt recognition and initiation of treatment is critical in successful management of anaphylactic reactions to hymenopteran stings. Imported fire ants both bite and sting, and envenomation only occurs through the sting. Anaphylaxis after imported fire ant stings is treated similarly to anaphylactic reactions after honeybee and vespid stings. The majority of Hymenopteran stings are self-limiting events, which resolve in a few hours without treatment. Because life-threatening anaphylactic reactions can progress rapidly, all animals stung should be closely monitored and observed. In the following review article, we will examine the sources and incidence, toxicokinetics, pathological lesions, clinical signs, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis for dogs and cats suffering Hymenoptera stings.