Asian wasp: Rising allergy concerns in Spain

Asian wasp: Allergy risk

The Vespa velutina (Asian wasp). Credit: Danel Solabarrieta/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0

As the Asian wasp makes its presence increasingly felt across Spain, experts have expressed concerns that allergic reactions are escalating.

On Saturday, April 13, Carmen Vidal Pan, a renowned allergist at the University Clinical Hospital of Santiago de Compostela, highlighted the growing threat of the Vespa velutina, or Asian wasp.

Vidal, who is well-known for her expertise is listed among Spain’s top 100 doctors by Forbes, noted the significant rise in anaphylactic reactions linked to this invasive species.

An Expanding Threat

The Asian wasp, originally from Asia and larger than its European counterparts, has been identified as the primary cause of severe allergies to Hymenoptera stings in Galicia.

According to Vidal, this species, though not more aggressive, possesses more venom due to its size, increasing the severity of reactions.

In Galicia alone, 77 per cent of nearly 400 individuals receive annual vaccinations to mitigate the wasp’s sting effects.

Emergency responses and preventative measures

In case of a sting, immediate action involves an adrenaline injection, a lifesaving treatment for those with severe allergies.

‘It’s the treatment that saves your life,’ explained Carmen Vidal, emphasising the importance of allergic individuals knowing how to self-administer the injection. Furthermore, vaccinations are promoted to lessen the allergic reactions.

The prevalence of the Asian wasp is not confined to Galicia but has spread to various parts of the country, including the Balearic Islands and Andalucia. Vidal stressed the need for health authorities to implement adequate measures to combat this rising problem effectively.

Increasing allergic reactions

Additionally, the congress addressed other significant developments in allergy treatments, including immunotherapy for food allergies.

Allergist Carmelo Escudero from Niño Jesus Hospital in Madrid discussed this approach, which gradually increases the patient’s tolerance to allergens like eggs or peanuts.

The incidence of allergies is on the rise, affecting approximately one in four individuals, confirmed Jose Camilo Martinez, an allergist from the organising committee.

This year’s congress, gathering nearly a hundred specialists, underscores the urgent need to address and manage allergies more effectively.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.