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Lady Bugs and Mosquitoes = Insect Allergies?

Lady Bugs and Mosquitoes = Insect Allergies?
The articles highlighted below appear in the September issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the peer-reviewed scientific journal of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI).

Lady Bugs and Mosquitoes = Insect Allergies?Lady bug allergy identified for first time
MILWAUKEE-Researchers in Georgia and Virginia recently identified allergic sensitization to the Asian lady bug according a study in this month's Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Although inhalant allergy to insects is well known, this is the first report detailing allergy to lady bug.

Two case studies highlight this recent discovery. The patients experienced itchy eyes, sneezing, congestion and a runny nose. One patient had no history of allergies or asthma, while the other had successfully controlled her allergies for four years until a recent flare up. Upon questioning, both patients revealed that their homes were infested with lady bugs. Samples of the lady bugs were taken, and skin testing was administered on the two patients and four control subjects. Both patients reacted positively to the skin tests, while the control subjects had no measurable reactions. The lady bugs were removed from the sufferers' homes and both showed improvement. Researchers suspect that lady bug allergy may be the explanation for some cases of allergic symptoms that previously eluded diagnosis.

The Asian lady bug was introduced to the southeastern United States in the late seventies as a method to control aphids, a common garden pest. Unlike the domestic variety, the Asian lady bug is active throughout the year and seeks shelter during the winter months. As temperatures begin to cool, people should caulk gaps and holes, especially in attic areas. If lady bugs do infest the home, intense cleaning is the preferred removal method, as insecticides generate dead lady bugs which attract pests like carpet beetles.

[From: "Allergic rhinoconjunctivitis caused by Harmonia axyridis (Asian lady beetle, Japanese lady beetle or lady bug)." J Allergy Clin Immunol 1999;104: 704-705.]

Allergic reaction to mosquito bites identified for first time-"skeeter syndrome"
MILWAUKEE-Bug bites are a standard annoyance for those who spend time outside during the summer months. The consequence for most is uncomfortable swelling and itching at the site of the bite for a short period of time. However, young children, immune deficient persons and those previously unexposed to mosquitoes are at increased risk for a severe reaction to mosquito bites according to a study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Canadian researchers recently identified this reaction as "skeeter syndrome," defined as mosquito-bite induced large, local inflammatory reactions accompanied by fever.

Large local reactions to mosquito bites are under diagnosed and sometimes assumed to be infectious in nature when in fact, they are the result of an allergic reaction. In this study, researchers studied five healthy children between the ages of two and four with no history of allergy to insect bites. Each had been diagnosed with cellulitis, a bacterial infection of the skin and tissue that is usually found on the face, neck or legs. The children developed extreme redness, swelling, warmth and inflammationwithin hours of a witnessed mosquito bite. Several months later the children were tested for allergy to mosquito. Blood tests confirmed that the children had been misdiagnosed: the symptoms they experienced were the result of an allergic reaction to a mosquito bite, not cellulitis.

People with skeeter syndrome should minimize their exposure to mosquitoes to avoid experiencing an adverse reaction. It is important to increase the awareness of skeeter syndrome so those affected can avoid unnecessary diagnostic procedures and antibiotic treatments.

[From: "Skeeter syndrome." J Allergy Clin Immunol 1999;104: 705-707.]

Home remedy works-washing nasal passages with salt water aids in allergy management
MILWAUKEE-According to a recent study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology,grandma's advice was right: when allergies flare up, rinse your nasal passages out with a salt water solution for relief. Researchers in Spain found that irrigating both nostrils with a salt water solution three times daily significantly lessened the seasonal increase in allergic antibodies experienced by most allergic patients, offering the 35 million Americans with seasonal allergies another tool in the quest for successful allergy management.

Sixteen grass-allergic patients completed this experiment. Patients used a Water Pik with a special nasal applicator to gently rinse their nostrils for five minutes, three times daily with a salt water solution. During the study, patients were only allowed to use antihistamines for additional allergy management. Although all patients experienced an increase in IgE levels (the primary antibody responsible for allergic reactions), patients using the salt water rinse experienced a significantly lower increase than those in the control group.

This study supports the idea that the nasal tissues play an important role in the body's response to allergens. It is not known how the nasal wash works to lessen symptoms, but it is suspected that it has an anti-inflammatory effect in the nasal passages by washing out pollen as well as nasal secretions, which can promote inflammation.

Although not the answer to complete relief from seasonal allergy symptoms, using this technique in conjunction with other proven remedies, such as antihistamines and steroid nasal sprays, may improve symptom management during a severe allergy season.

[From: "Inhibition of the seasonal IgE increase to Dactylis glomerata by daily sodium chloride nasal-sinus irrigation during the grass pollen season." J Allergy Clin Immunol 1999;104: 711-712.]

EDITOR'S NOTE: This study was published in the peer-reviewed, scientific journal of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, but does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of the Academy. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology is the largest professional medical specialty organization in the United States representing allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic disease. Allergy/immunology specialists are pediatric or internal medicine physicians who have elected an additional two years of training to become specialized in the treatment of asthma, allergy and immunologic disease. Established in 1943, the Academy has more than 5,800 members in the U.S., Canada and 60 other countries.

Date published: September 17, 1999

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