Healthy Living: Shortage of anti-venom for those who are allergic to bee stings

Summer is here, which means it’s the best time for fun in the sun and outdoor activities.

Unfortunately, it is also the peak time for insect stings and allergists across the country are warning about a shortage of a little-known, but life-saving product.

Millions of Americans are allergic to insect stings.

A smaller percentage suffer anaphylaxis, a severe response that can be life-threatening if they’re stung by a honeybee, hornet or wasp.

If you are allergic to these stinging insects and use venom immunotherapy, or VIT, to prevent a potentially deadly reaction, listen up.

Supplies of the venom protein extract used for VIT are low and may continue to be for some time.

VIT involves injecting small doses of venom under the skin.

This reduces sensitivity to the allergens that can trigger dangerous symptoms.

There are just two manufacturers in the U.S. and one of them was shut down in 2016 after contamination problems, which led to the shortage.

The situation may not be resolved before next year, so for now, doctors are rationing doses for patients who need them.

Guidelines issued this spring called for longer intervals between doses, reduction of maintenance doses, even stopping treatment altogether for patients with a lower risk for severe reactions.

Experts said the plan is working and the shortage is decreasing, but don’t expect supplies to be back to normal for several months.

In San Diego, entomologists say the bee population has soared because of our rainy winter season. As we’ve reported, there have been a handful of cases of people being attacked by a swarm of bees. All the more reason those with bee allergies need to be extra cautious.

Categories: Healthy Living