Africanized honeybees (HBs) pose a hazard to both normal and sting-sensitive subjects in certain areas of Central and South America, and it is predicted that they will soon be present in the southern United States as well. Using an electrical stimulation device, we collected Africanized HB venom (AHV) in Venezuela and European HB venom (EHV) in Louisiana. These venoms, along with commercial European HB venom (CHV), were compared by thin-layer isoelectric focusing and sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE). The Coomassie brilliant blue and silver-stained banding patterns of AHV and EHV were essentially identical to CHV. Western blots were prepared from SDS-PAGE gels and tested with pooled sera from EHV-sensitive subjects and then radiolabeled antihuman lgE. The resulting autoradiographs revealed similar banding patterns among EHV, AHV, and CHV. RAST-inhibition studies were performed with solid-phase CHV and pooled sera from EHV-sensitive subjects. The specific allergenic activities of the three HB venoms (allergy units per milligram of protein) were comparable. By RAST-inhibition assay with solid-phase, highly purified individual venom components, AHV and EHV both contained phospholipase A2. hyaluronidase, and high-molecular-weight allergens. The increased morbidity after Africanized HB stings is likely related to their more defensive behavior during which many bees react by stinging rather than to biochemical or allergenic differences between AHV and EHV.
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