Stinging Insect Identification: Are the Allergy Specialists Any Better than Their Patients?

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Background It has been reported that the general population is not skillful at identifying stinging insects with the exception of the honeybee. No information is available to evaluate allergy physicians' accuracy with stinging insect identification. Objective To measure the accuracy of allergists' ability to identify stinging insects and assess their common practices for evaluating individuals with suspected insect hypersensitivity. Methods A picture-based survey and a dried specimen insect box were constructed to determine allergists' and nonallergists' accuracy in identifying insects. Allergists attending the 2013 American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology meeting were invited to participate in the study. Common practice approaches for evaluating individuals with stinging insect hypersensitivity were also investigated using a brief questionnaire. Results Allergy physicians are collectively better at insect identification than nonallergists. Overall, the mean (SD) number of correct responses for nonallergists was 5.4 (2.0) of a total of 10. This score was significantly lower than the score for allergists (6.1 [2.0]; P =.01) who participated in the study. Most allergists (78.5%) test for all stinging insects and use skin testing (69.5%) as the initial test of choice for evaluating individuals with insect hypersensitivity. Conclusion Overall, allergists are more skilled at Hymenoptera identification. Most allergy specialists reported testing for all stinging insects when evaluating insect hypersensitivity, and skin testing was the preferred testing method in nearly 70% of allergists. These data support the practice parameter's recommendation to consider testing for all flying Hymenoptera insects during venom evaluation, which most of the participating allergists surveyed incorporate into their clinical practice.



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