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Stings of imported fire ants: Clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and treatment

Richard D deShazo, MD
David F Williams, PhD
Jerome Goddard, PhD
Robin Rockhold, PhD
Stephen F Kemp, MD
Section Editor
David B Golden, MD
Deputy Editor
Anna M Feldweg, MD


Imported fire ants (IFAs) are aggressive, venomous ants that sting with little provocation and are difficult to avoid in endemic areas. Their venom causes painful local reactions and induces a high rate of allergic sensitization. Patients who become allergic to IFA venom can experience a range of reactions, including life-threatening anaphylaxis.

The term "imported fire ant" refers to two members of the Solenopsis species [1]:

The red imported fire ant (RIFA), Solenopsis invicta

The black imported fire ant (BIFA), Solenopsis richteri

This topic review discusses the medical consequences of IFA stings and the treatment of IFA venom allergy. The entomology of IFAs and the chemical and biologic control of these pests are discussed separately. (See "Entomology and control of imported fire ants".)


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Literature review current through: Jul 2017. | This topic last updated: Sep 22, 2016.
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