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  1. #1
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    Feb 2010
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    Default Does venom immunotherapy (VIT) work? (I need real world advice)

    Hi my name is Alexander, I live in NJ and I have been a beek for about 4-5 years now. I'm 36 years old.

    Up until last week, I never had more than a very tiny local reaction to bee stings. Think mosquito bite.

    But last week I got stung 2-3 times picking up a deep after installing a swarm into a new medium (friend caught the swarm, he does deeps, my wife and I do mediums). In any event, I had a systemic reaction this time: Hives started to develop all over my body, itching on my palms and everywhere else (EVERYWHERE ELSE), and generally feelings of anxiety. I had no shortness of breath though.

    In any event, I went to the local clinic, was given some steroids and an EPI shot. In about 5-7 minutes all was right with the world again (though I was out for the rest of the day - note an EPI shot is not pleasant affair either).

    I came back from the allergist and a venom test showed that I react to only 1/1000th of a bee sting (minor redness, itching). Bummer. I'm sure the blood work will confirm. My wife already has gone through this and she is allergic as well (though its a heavy localized reaction, very painful).

    Allergist claims that Venom Immunotherapy (VIT) can potentially cure my allergy or at least keep the reaction localized permanently. We were told different things by different allergists (one Dr claimed it good for only ONE sting, while another said it will help you build up resistance to multiple stings - I think the challenge sting is 100mcg which is equivalent to two honey bee stings from Googling around).

    Has anyone gone through VIT? What were your results?

    Cheers!

  2. #2
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    May 2013
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    Cream Ridge, New Jersey, USA
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    Default Re: Does venom immunotherapy (VIT) work? (I need real world advice)

    I'm very interested in hearing the responses to this one. I am in NJ also and just had a systemic reaction to one sting yesterday. I am a second year beek. I'm seeing an allergist next week.

  3. #3
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    Apr 2007
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    Northern Virginia
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    Default Re: Does venom immunotherapy (VIT) work? (I need real world advice)

    Quote Originally Posted by pisymbol View Post
    Hi my name is Alexander, I live in NJ and I have been a beek for about 4-5 years now. I'm 36 years old.


    Has anyone gone through VIT? What were your results?
    yes- although I just had the large local reaction diagnosis not the anaphylactic one. I used to get a sting and swell increasingly worse over 3 days. Several times I took steroids. I went through the shots for 4 years (which may have been 1 year more than necessary), wore gloves for 3 years, and now I work gloveless and get many stings in the season and do very well. Of course a sting to the head or face or something swells badly. If I get a lot of stings, like more than 20 in a day, which is very rare, I will take zyrtec first and then even benedryl if I feel worried just to be sure. I have heard of others who have had great success with the desentisization. I think one thing you might consider, but folks who had real systemic reactions are the best ones to inform you, is - is there a need once you are done with the allergy shots to stung a little all year long. This is my first year off of the shots, and I am planning on a sting a month during Fall and Winter.
    I also used to always tell someone where I was going to the bee yard and have the phone.
    karla

  4. #4
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    Jan 2007
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    Manitoba, Canada
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    Default Re: Does venom immunotherapy (VIT) work? (I need real world advice)

    Venom immunotherapy has worked well for me.

    I had a severe anaphylactic reaction at age 10. Unconscious in about 10 minutes and rush to the hospital.

    Began desensitization treatments program in about 1980. Back then the program was in its infancy and after building up to the equivalent of 2 stings, I was stung once a day for 2 weeks and then the interval was slowly increased to a month between stings. I did this for 20 years, got slack and didn't sting myself for a year. My allergy tests showed I was still allergic but my allergist said that I should go home and try stinging my self because he couldn't believe I was still allergic after 20 years of stings. Needless to say i stung myself very close to a hospital. Fortunately no reaction but my arm did swell quite a bit.

    This was around 2000 and I have been keeping bees since. Stings are no issue for me now. No reaction and no swelling. I can take 20 - 30 stings a day no problem and do so multiple times during summer. I do try to sting myself once a month in winter just to be safe.

    Out of curiosity Alexander, was it a while since your last sting?

    I would encourage you to give VIT a shot. Real peace of mind not having to worry about reacting.

  5. #5
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    Franklin Park, NJ, USA
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    Default Re: Does venom immunotherapy (VIT) work? (I need real world advice)

    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Martens View Post

    Out of curiosity Alexander, was it a while since your last sting?
    I honestly don't get stung much per year because I wear a jacket and veil. But it was about 2-3 weeks ago since the last time I got stung (I picked up a piece of burr comb and crushed in my hand, I had no idea a bee was still in there, she stung me). That sting was interesting because I had almost zero reaction for the first 48 hours and then one day it got really itchy and swelled a little before ultimately going down. But before that, it was probably about a year or so (last season I'm not sure I got stung at all in fact - our bees are very, very gentle - they bump more than sting).

    Then of course I had my systemic reaction from just 2-3 stings (I had my tee shirt on and was just picking up my friend's deep to zonk in the truck - I thought if I get stung, great, I could use it - or not).

  6. #6
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    Franklin Park, NJ, USA
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    Default Re: Does venom immunotherapy (VIT) work? (I need real world advice)

    I'd be curious what your allergist says about VIT treatment and if it's effective among his or her patients.

  7. #7
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    Franklin Park, NJ, USA
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    Default Re: Does venom immunotherapy (VIT) work? (I need real world advice)

    Quote Originally Posted by njrunner
    I'm very interested in hearing the responses to this one. I am in NJ also and just had a systemic reaction to one sting yesterday. I am a second year beek. I'm seeing an allergist next week.
    I'd be curious what your allergist says about VIT treatment and if it's effective among his or her patients.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Does venom immunotherapy (VIT) work? (I need real world advice)

    Quote Originally Posted by pisymbol View Post
    I'd be curious what your allergist says about VIT treatment and if it's effective among his or her patients.
    I will definitely report back. I will be very disappointed if I have to give up the bees.

  9. #9
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    Sep 2012
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    Jamesville, NY
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    Default Re: Does venom immunotherapy (VIT) work? (I need real world advice)

    Quote Originally Posted by pisymbol View Post
    I'd be curious what your allergist says about VIT treatment and if it's effective among his or her patients.
    I had read that if the treatment is completed in its full cycle there is something like a 99.9% chance it works. I read that on the internet so it must be true. Interested in this as well.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Does venom immunotherapy (VIT) work? (I need real world advice)

    It has been many decades, since I last read the book, but I'm fairly sure that A. I. Root, one of the father's of modern beekeeping, and early author of "ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture", was hypersensitive/allergic to bee stings, and developed and successfully used a desensitization regimen on himself, describing it in his book.

    I'm afraid, I enjoy beekeeping, so much, if I did develop hypersensitivity to bee venom, I'm afraid I would likely join those who have perished from the experience. Similarly, I enjoy seafood and shellfish, so much, the same thing would likely be my undoing.
    Last edited by Joseph Clemens; 06-10-2014 at 08:28 AM.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Does venom immunotherapy (VIT) work? (I need real world advice)

    Of course, I also feel that many suggestions to use various sting-proof suits, are somewhat misdirected. They may be valid, if one were to be so cautious as to wear such a suit, 24/7/365. And since honey bees are quite ubiquitous and unpredictable in their behavior, either carrying an epi pen and phone capable of reaching emergency responders, no matter where you are, would also be essential. And if one is also determined to continue working closely with honey bees, as A. I. Root was, desensitization therapy, would likely be the best way to go. I am the type to develop hypersensitivity to things - for instance penicillin amd bandage adhesive, I experienced a very strong anaphylactic reaction to penicillin, and whenever I wear a bandaid for more than 12 hours, it increases the severity of that injury, by causing what appears to be a second degree burn, where the adhesive contacted my skin.

    I practice desensitization therapy, with bee venom -- I let myself get stung several times, almost every day. In junior high, I had often used penicillin, therapeutically, for frequent bouts of Strep and Bronchitis, but it had been nearly a decade after that, when I experienced the adverse reaction. I was in the U.S. Navy, then and it was administered orally, for a foot infection. Oh boy, the foot infection was soon, the least of my worries.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Does venom immunotherapy (VIT) work? (I need real world advice)

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Clemens View Post
    I'm afraid, I enjoy beekeeping, so much, if I did develop hypersensitivity to bee venom, I'm afraid I would likely join those who have perished from the experience. Similarly, I enjoy seafood and shellfish, so much, the same thing would likely be my undoing.
    Joseph, regarding AI Roots desensitization therapy. Was that info in a volume of ABC/XYZ or in a different book, if you recall?

    I'm curious if some of the bad reactions that are listed here could have been caused by sting location. Possibly the stinger hitting a main vein or possibly even an artery that allowed the venom to travel over the body? Maybe even a nerve of some sort? I've been stung a few times on the back of the hand that caused (relative to the size of a bee stinger) a good bit of bleeding. Seems these stings got a little puffier than other stings on the hands, but nothing systemic.

    Ed

  13. #13
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    Feb 2012
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    Earlysville, Virginia USA
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    Default Re: Does venom immunotherapy (VIT) work? (I need real world advice)

    Years ago I developed allergic reactions to bee stings. A sting on my finger would lead to face swelling and a drop in blood pressure. Quite scary to say the least but thankfully I never experienced the dreaded tight throat. I turned to an allergist that practiced the Johns Hopkins method. After two months my reactions were very slight and now two years later I often can't find where I was stung 30 minutes later. I recently quit going to the allergist and instead sting myself with two FULL stings once a month....which is the equivalent of the maintenance shot I was getting.
    For me immunotherapy saved my beekeeping hobby/business and I highly recommend it.

    Ryan

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Does venom immunotherapy (VIT) work? (I need real world advice)

    Quote Originally Posted by Intheswamp View Post
    Joseph, regarding AI Roots desensitization therapy. Was that info in a volume of ABC/XYZ or in a different book, if you recall?

    Ed
    I am sure that it was in one of the older editions of the book, "ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture", one authored by A.I. Root, himself.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Does venom immunotherapy (VIT) work? (I need real world advice)

    Just want to let people know that bee venom does travel in the bloodstream, direct hit or not. Apitherapy can benefit even areas that are not directly treated with bee stings.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Does venom immunotherapy (VIT) work? (I need real world advice)

    Quote Originally Posted by Bee Bliss View Post
    Just want to let people know that bee venom does travel in the bloodstream, direct hit or not. Apitherapy can benefit even areas that are not directly treated with bee stings.
    Bee Bliss, I would imagine, though, that venom injected into the bloodstream will cause a faster and possibly more intense reaction than an injection in the muscle or fatty tissue. I'm sure both will be beneficial if the person is not allergic. Matter of fact, I haven't been stung much this year, looks like I need to provoke a couple of bees.

    Joseph, I have a 1935 copy of ABC/XYZ and found the specific text on page 667. I don't have time to read it right now, but will tonight. Thanks for pointing it out to me!

    Ed

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Does venom immunotherapy (VIT) work? (I need real world advice)

    I am doing VIT, I receive two shots a month. Down from 4 a week. If I get stung 6 times or more I still experience respiratory problems. My allergist recommended that I take zyrtec immediately after a sting and keep the epi pen handy at all times. I always suit up and double layer my legs. I try to be extra careful but you can't predict the ladies.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Does venom immunotherapy (VIT) work? (I need real world advice)

    Somewhat off topic...Somewhere on this forum or elsewhere I read that the real problem is anxiety, and people who have a systemic reaction mostly get hurt by anxiety and its aftereffects... I had some bad reaction to the benadryl last year, which I took after receiving too many very painful stings and also I suppose I was overheated, so basically didn't feel well and thought that I am reacting to the bee stings, so here comes the benadryl....About 3 hours later I get some funny reaction - shaking all over...and then a panic attack, no shortness of breath or hives....Well, obviously thinking now, that 3-4 hours after the last bee sting it wouldn't be a systemic reaction, but try to tell it to your overheated brain when something like that happens...Trip to the emergency room, blah-blah-blah....Going back to my bees couple weeks later and cannot take one sting without getting a terrible anxiety, almost panic attack episodes. It got better eventually, and I am back on track, although couple days ago the bees were very upset and I had to put on those horrible gloves again. Bottom line - your mind can be an enemy in that kind of situation. Now trying to remind myself every time to stay cool....

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Does venom immunotherapy (VIT) work? (I need real world advice)

    I just went to an allergist today and took the series of shots to verify that I am allergic to Honey Bee venom. After discussing the desensitization treatments with the doctor, I cannot wait to get started. It sounds very promising from what I was told. In the meantime, I'm always fully suited, with phone and Epi pen.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Does venom immunotherapy (VIT) work? (I need real world advice)

    Quote Originally Posted by BeePappy View Post
    I just went to an allergist today and took the series of shots to verify that I am allergic to Honey Bee venom. After discussing the desensitization treatments with the doctor, I cannot wait to get started. It sounds very promising from what I was told. In the meantime, I'm always fully suited, with phone and Epi pen.
    Very excited to hear this. You are still going to work with the bees before the treatment is complete?

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