Allergo Journal

, Volume 28, Issue 6, pp 42–51 | Cite as

Prevalence of Hymenoptera venom allergy and sensitization in the population-representative German KORA cohort

  • Simon BlankEmail author
  • Stephanie Haemmerle
  • Teresa Jaeger
  • Dennis Russkamp
  • Johannes Ring
  • Carsten B. Schmidt-Weber
  • Markus Ollert



Allergic reactions to Hymenoptera venoms represent potentially life-threatening conditions. However, studies on their prevalence in Germany and their relation to specific IgE sensitization are rare. The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of Hymenoptera venom allergy as well as the frequency of venom-specific IgE sensitization in a large population-based adult German cohort.


Questionnaire data were collected from the participants of the German population-based KORA (Cooperative Health Research in the Region of Augsburg) S4 baseline study population (n = 4,261) and the follow-up F4 study population (n = 3,074), which was conducted seven years later. Moreover, sIgE antibodies to honeybee (HBV) and yellow jacket venom (HJV) as well as to common aeroallergens were measured in the S4 study population.


The prevalence of systemic sting reactions ranged between 2.3 % and 2.6 %. sIgE sensitization (≥ 0.35 kUA/L) to HBV and YJV was demonstrated in 23.1 % and 31.7 % of the population, respectively (41.6 % to HBV and/or YJV). Double-sensitization to both venoms occurred in 13.2 % of the individuals. Approximately 53 % and 77 % of the individuals who reported shock symptoms after honeybee and yellow jacket stings, respectively, exhibited sIgE ≥ 0.35 kUA/L to the culprit venom. In contrast, only 2.8 % of the venom-sensitized individuals reported symptoms exceeding local reactions. Local reactions were reported by 4.4 to 4.8 % of the population.


Self-reported Hymenoptera sting reactions and venom sensitization are frequent in the general German population. In many cases, sensitization and clinically relevant allergy are not observed in the same individual, indicating that comprehensive diagnostic approaches are a prerequisite for the identification of patients at risk for severe reactions.


anaphylaxis honeybee venom insect venom allergy specific IgE systemic reaction venom sensitization yellow jacket venom 



German ministry of education and research


Cross-reactive carbohydrate determinant


Confidence interval


German Center of Lung Research




Honeybee venom


Cooperative Health Research in the Region of Augsburg


Luxembourg institute of health


Large local reactions


German national genome research network


Odds ratio


Radioallergosorbent test


Specific immunoglobulin E


Total immunoglobulin E


Venom-specific immunotherapy


Yellow jacket


Yellow jacket venom


Center of allergy and environment



We are extremely grateful to all the individuals and families who took part in this study, the professionals who helped in recruiting them, and the KORA team, which includes interviewers, computer and laboratory technicians, research scientists, volunteers, managers, receptionists and nurses. Moreover, we gratefully acknowledge the KORA study group for providing us with all the sera and information of the surveys. We also gratefully acknowledge the technical contributions by Birgit Halter and Johanna Grosch.


The study was partially funded by grant 01GC0104 from the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF; to MO) and by grant UW-S15T03 from the German National Genome Research Network (NGFN) of the BMBF (to MO and JR). The IgE assays for the Immulite 2000® platform were kindly provided through an unrestricted grant by Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics.

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Copyright information

© Springer Medizin Verlag GmbH, ein Teil von Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simon Blank
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stephanie Haemmerle
    • 2
    • 3
  • Teresa Jaeger
    • 2
  • Dennis Russkamp
    • 1
  • Johannes Ring
    • 2
  • Carsten B. Schmidt-Weber
    • 1
  • Markus Ollert
    • 2
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Center of Allergy and Environment (ZAUM)Technical University of Munich and Helmholtz Center Munich, Member of the German Center of Lung Research (DZL)MunichGermany
  2. 2.Department of Dermatology and AllergyBiederstein Technical University of MunichMunichGermany
  3. 3.Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and PsychotherapyUniversity Hospital MunichMunichGermany
  4. 4.Department of Infection and ImmunityLuxembourg Institute of Health (LIH)Esch-sur-AlzetteLuxembourg
  5. 5.Department of Dermatology and Allergy Center, Odense Research Center for AnaphylaxisUniversity of Southern Denmark, OdenseOdenseDenmark

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