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Minerva Medicolegale 2010 June;130(2):129-32

language: Italian

Hypacusis following a bee sting: a rare case of an occupational disease

Beatrice F. 1, Marino C. 2, Massimelli M. 3

1 Struttura Complessa di Otorinolaringoiatria, Ospedale S. Giovanni Bosco, Torino, Italia
2 Medico Legale, Torino, Italia
3 Dipartimento di Anatomia, Farmacologia e Medicina Legale, Università di Torino, Torino, Italia


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Hymenopterous poison, specifically that of bees, serves to defend the hive against intrusion by small mammals and other invertebrates in search of food. In most cases, bee stings in humans are unpleasant but otherwise devoid of long-term effects. Sometimes, however, the chemicals contained in the 0.5-2 ml of poison injected with a sting may provoke serious allergic reactions. During the summer months, encounters with bees, which are not ordinarily aggressive, are fairly frequent. Ordinary symptoms of bee stings are normally less severe than more serious reactions. Serious local reactions occur in 15% of the population; systematic allergic reactions occur in less than 1% of children and in about 2% of adults. Nearly two-thirds of fatal bee stings occur after a single sting, have a brief course, and involve adults over age 40 years stung in the head and neck region. The frequency of severe reactions increases proportionally with the duration of exposure to bees: beekeepers and farmers are at high risk of serious allergic reactions (accounting for 20-35% of adverse reactions). This report describes the case of a beekeeper stung by three bees in the skin area around the left ear, resulting in permanent left ear hypacusis.

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