A recent story from Reuter's reports on a new, rapid treatment method to desensitize young children with severe allergic reactions to stings from fire ants. According to a study in the September 2008 issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, three children were successfully desensitized in a one-day "rush" protocol, consisting of 10 injections given over an 8-hour period.
Rush therapy is considered better than conventional desensitization therapy, because of the quick immunity it provides. This is especially important in areas where fire ants are common (endemic) because studies show that 38% of children aged 16 years or less are stung at least monthly by fire ants.
The study was the first to show the effectiveness of rush therapy on children. According to the authors, rush therapy has previously been shown to be effective on adults. However, this research provides evidence that young children, who are twice as likely as older children to experience allergic reactions to fire ant stings, may also benefit from this therapy. Results should be considered preliminary because of the small number of children tested.
One of the things I appreciate most about the profession of pest management is the health benefits we provide to individuals and the community. And let's not undervalue the benefit of educating customers about the latest in research and health impacts of pest. If you have a customer whose children have allergies to fire ants, consider informing them of the medical option of desensitization therapy. You might just make a difference in a family's health and peace of mind.