Jack Jumper Ant (JJA) stings can cause a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction. A Victorian group is gathering data to establish the need for a desensitisation program like the one already operating in Tasmania.
JJA are a close relative of bees and wasps and have the most powerful venom in the insect world. In Tasmania, where they are common, it’s estimated their stings cause more cases of anaphylaxis than bee-stings.
JJA are widely found in the eastern states of Australia and SW Western Australia. See map.
JJA are 10-12mm long and jet black except for yellow or orange mandibles and leg tips.
Tasmania, after more than 10 years’ research, has an immunotherapy program to desensitise people with a JJA allergy.
Ryan Madden lives in the outer Melbourne suburb of Ferntree Gully. He has been stung several times playing around his home and his reaction has worsened.
Ryan, or his Mum, carries an EpiPen now, for that vital adrenalin boost, and his Kindergarten has an anaphylaxis plan in place.
Ryan’s mother, Michelle Madden, would love to see a Victorian immunotherapy program, which would desensitise Ryan to the venom. It seems with the Tassie program there is a four-month waiting list to be assessed and all participants have to be Tasmanian residents.
The desensitisation process takes five years.
The Victorian group working towards a Tasmanian style densitisation process needs info from Victorians who have reacted to JJA stings.
You can contribute this info on the JJA website.
The drive for this program is coming from three people with experience of an anaphylactic reaction toJJA.
Catherine Crock had an emergency dash herself into a country hospital with severe anaphylaxis as a result of a jack jumper sting in 2011. Catherine is a physician in Adolescent Health and Haematology at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, and Executive Director of the Australian Institute for Patient and Family Centred Care.
Michelle Madden, mother of young Ryan, says he has presented to the local hospital emergency department with clear and established anaphylaxis needing adrenalin to be administered, early February 2011.
Colin Sheppard is an ophthalmologist in private practice whose wife who had a severe anaphylatic reaction to a jack jumper sting and who required hospital treatment in 2010.
Links to more info
Australian National Botanic Gardens – JJA strategy
Wikipedia – Jack Jumper Ant
Allergy.org.au Australasion Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy