Allergic reactions to insect stings: Results from a national survey of 10,000 junior high school children in Israel

Yael Graif, Orly Romano-Zelekha, Irit Livne, Manfred S. Green, Tamy Shohat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Insect sting allergy is a medical condition the magnitude of which has not been fully estimated in children. Objectives: We sought to evaluate the prevalence of insect stings among schoolchildren in Israel, the rate of allergic reactions, and hospital attendance. Methods: A self-report questionnaire of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood was administered to a national sample of schoolchildren aged 13 to 14 years across Israel. Questions regarding insect stings, allergic reactions, and hospital attendance were added. Results: Ten thousand twenty-one questionnaires were available for analysis. Most (56.3%) had been stung at least once in their lifetime. Of these, 20.5% had a large local reaction (LLR), 11.6% had a mild (cutaneous) systemic reaction (MSR), and 4.4% had a moderate-to-severe systemic reaction (SSR); 11.5%, 6.5%, and 2.5% of the study group, respectively. Arabs had significantly more allergic reactions of all 3 types than Jews (P < .0001). On multivariate analysis, LLR was associated with SSR (odds ratio, 6.25; 95% CI, 4.66-8.41) and MSR (odds ratio, 5.15; 95% CI, 4.24-6.25). More than 10% of the children with an LLR only attended a hospital compared with 7.5% of those with an MSR only and 14.5% with an SSR only. Conclusions: The frequency of reported allergic sting reactions in children might be higher than previously estimated. Arab children reported significantly more allergic reactions than Jews. Hospital attendance does not correlate with the severity of the allergic reaction, and only a minority of children with SSRs are treated in hospital. Clinical implications: The improper care of severe reactions highlights the need for better public and physician education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1435-1439
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Schoolchildren
  • hospital attendance
  • insect stings
  • large local reaction
  • mild systemic reaction
  • moderate-to-severe systemic reaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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