Eight sequentially collected lots of aqueous extracts of imported fire ant (IFA) front end and abdominal end segments were assayed for phospholipase A (PLA), N-acetyl-β-glucosaminidase (NAG), and hyaluronidase. Relative potency of each extract lot and pooled venom was measured by RAST inhibition against a venom standard. More than a hundredfold difference in PLA activity was observed. Early summer collections had the highest activity. The May to June collection had more than twice the PLA activity of the next most potent lot. Discordancy in enzyme patterns was noted only in AE extract. NAG levels peaked earlier in the spring and summer and fluctuated less widely. Front end extract had lower activity levels for both enzymes, with no seasonal fluctuation in NAG and a single elevation in PLA activity in the April to May collection. RAST inhibition varied directly with PLA activity (p<0.5) but not with NAG nor hyaluronidase activities. Fifty-one percent of systemic allergic reactions to IFA stings occurred in summer, and 19% occurred in spring. A reported demographic survey demonstrated a higher incidence of IFA stings in the spring (39.9%) with a lower attack rate in the summer (31.9%). These findings suggest that the rate of systemic reactions to stings of the IFA may be related to seasonal variations in allergenic potency, as measured by PLA and RAST inhibition, rather than the sting attack rate.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy