Jack Jumper ants (JJA) are the most common cause of ant induced anaphylaxis in Australia. In Tasmania they are the commonest cause of insect induced anaphylaxis (causing more anaphylactic reactions than bees). Some interesting facts about JJA include:
- They are native to Australia, having a jumping or hopping motion, and have smooth stingers (so can sting multiple times).
- They can pray on spiders, cockroaches and crickets
- They have been found across all States in Australia, in the ACT but their presence has not been verified in the Northern Territory. They have been found throughout Victoria (but uncommon in Melbourne), NSW (with the exception of North West NSW) and Tasmania
- They are active during the day
- Their venom can be highly allergenic but immunotherapy to JJA venom is available (an Australian invention)
At the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, we see around 2-3 new cases a month of JJA allergy. When we suspect JJA anaphylaxis a blood test is done and sent to Adelaide to determine the presence of IgE (allergy antibody) to the JJA venom. If a child/adult has had a confirmed history of JJA anaphylaxis with a positive blood test, then desensitisation/immunotherapy to JJA is available in some states, including Melbourne (at the Monash Medical Centre), Tasmania and South Australia.
If you have had an anaphylactic reaction to an ant, then it is important you are assessed by an Immunologist/Allergist. Currently immunotherapy for insect stings is available for honey bee, paper wasp, yellow jacket and JJA.