European hornet

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Code: i75
Latin name: Vespa crabro
Source material: Venom
Family: Vespidae
Order: Hymenoptera
 
Allergen source: Venom obtained from dissected venom sacs of V. crabro

Allergen Exposure

Exposure occurs through stings from provoked or threatened insects. Allergic reactions may be caused either by direct sensitization by previous V. crabro stings or by cross-reactions with Vespula Yellow jacket venom and probably also with Dolichovespula hornet venom. 

Potential Cross-Reactivity

Cross-reactions with other Vespidae wasps exist especially with Vespula spp and also to a lower degree with Polistes spp. (1, 2).

Clinical Experience

Sensitivity to V. crabro is reported as rare in the US and also in Southern Europe.
 
Review
V. crabro is easily recognizable as a very large insect with distinctive brown and orange bands.

These insects build aerial nests in sheltered locations near or on human dwellings. They are not particurlarly aggressive.

V. crabro is found in Asia, Europe and also in N. America were it was introduced accidentally in the 1850's ranging from Ontario, Canada and south through the eastern and central US.

There are also several members of the genus Vespa, which are common in East and South East Asia.

Cross-reactivity & clinical experience


Various degrees of cross-reactivity has been reported. Venoms of the Vespula, Dolichovespula and Vespa genera are more closely related to each other than to Polistes. There are only limited degree of cross-rectivity between Polistes and Vespid venoms (1). The major proteins in Vespa crabro; phospholipase A and B, antigen 5 and hyaluronidase are structurally and antigenically related to those from other vespid wasps, especially Vespula yellow jackets (1). IgE antibodies from patients allergic to Vespula usually cross-react with V. crabro. There are however reports on patients who were monosensitised to V. crabro as shown by in vitro specific IgE measurements(2).
 
Allergy to V. crabro has been extensively studied in the United States (1). However, few reactions to stings have been reported there. In a study in Spain (3) sensitivity to the European wasps Polistes dominulus and Vespula germanica was more dominant than to V. crabro. Also in Italy (1) and Marseille, France (4) rare cases of sensitivity to V. crabro has been reported.

References

  1. Hoffman, DR; Jacobson, RS; Zerboni, R. Allergens in Hymenoptera venom. XIX. Allergy to Vespa crabro, the European Hornet. Int Arch Allergy appl Immunol; 1987; 84: 25-31.
  2. Bousquet, J; Müller, UR; Dreborg, S; Jarisch, R; Malling, HJ; Mosbech, H; Urbanek, R; Youlten, L. Immunotherapy with Hymenoptera venoms. Allergy; 1987; 42: 401-413.
  3. Blanca, M; Garcia, F; Miranda, A; Carmona, MJ; Garcia, J; Fernandez, J; Terrados, S; Vega, JM; Juarez, C. Determination of IgE antibodies to Polistes dominulus, Vespula germanica and Vespa crabro in sera of patients allergic to vespids. Allergy; 1991; 46(2): 109-114.
  4. Panzani, R; Blanca, M; Sanchez, F; Juarez, C. Sensitivity to European wasps in a group of allergic patients in Marseille: preliminary results.  J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol; 1994 Jan-Feb; 4(1): 42-46.

 

As in all diagnostic testing, the diagnosis is made by the physican based on both test results and the patient history.