Serum sickness

General or Other | Allergy & Immunology | Serum sickness (Disease)


Serum sickness is the name for symptoms caused by a delayed immune response, to certain types of drugs or antisera administered stings or insect bites and snakes. Serum sickness is similar to an allergy, the body identifies a protein in serum as its own non-self (not hers), or a drug as allergen, combating them.

Causes and Risk factors

Serum sickness can be developed as a result of exposure to antibodies derived from animals. These serums are generally administered to prevent or treat an infection or envenomation. When the antiserum is given, the human immune system can mistake the proteins present for harmful antigens. The body produces antibodies, which combine with these proteins to form immune complexes. These complexes can cause more reactions, and cause the symptoms detailed below. Serum sickness can also be caused by several drugs, notably penicillin-based medicines. This results in hypocomplementemia, a low C3 level in serum.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Physical and history tests are performed to rule out other causes of the symptoms are typically performed.

Therapy depends on the severity of the disease. Treatment may include: antihistamines, steroids, and/or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (ibuprofen, naproxen). Pain medications such as acetaminophen. ...