– VENOM THERAPY –
The stings of bees, wasps, hornets and yellow jackets can have life-threatening, sometimes fatal, results in minutes – even in persons who have been stung previously without suffering more than pain, redness, and swelling. Fatal reactions probably are more common than once thought.
It was discovered, for example, that some deaths caused by heart attacks at tennis courts, golf courses, or pools were in fact the result of insect stings. Fortunately, people who have experienced bad reactions need no longer restrict their outdoor activities and live in fear of ‘next time’.
A reliable immunization treatment has been developed; it consists of increasing a person’s tolerance with a series of injections of increasingly greater amounts of the venom – i.e. the poison produced by an insect – to which an individual is sensitive. In just two or three hours, a patient receives three injections of venom into his arm.
While the third might contain 100 times the quantity of the first, it still would be less than the amount in a single sting. Approximately once a week for six weeks the patient receives additional injections, building up to the equivalent of two stings. This maintenance dose is then given monthly.
Venom therapy will cost about $200 to $300 per patient per year, for the venom itself, plus fees for physicians’ services and for laboratory work. Venom therapy currently is considered appropriate only for people who have experienced generalized body reaction affecting the skin, respiratory or vascular systems. Others who do not show any sign of reaction should avoid venom therapy.