Wife of beekeeper with life-threatening allergy to stings actually is ‘cured’ using the insects’ venom

Lucy Zaichenko

The treatment means Lucy can keep working on the farm

Lucy Zaichenko, whose husband Viktor keeps 150 million bees, only discovered the deadly allergy when she was stung five years ago. Doctors have cured the wife of a bee keeper of her life-threatening allergy to bee stings.

Mrs Zaichenko, who does sales and administration work for the commercial bee farm, in Hook Norton, Oxfordshire, went into severe anaphylactic shock.

Her body swelled up and she could not breathe. She collapsed unconscious and was rushed to hospital.

The 47-year-old was saved and later referred to a specialist allergy clinic at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

Experts at the hospital offered her immunotherapy to bee venom – the treatment involves gradual exposure to the venom to build up immunity.

Initially she was injected with 1/10,000th of a bee sting and the dose was gradually increased. Now she receives the equivalent of two bee stings every six weeks.


The family business put Lucy at risk every day

Mrs Zaichenko said: “When I discovered I was allergic to bee stings I was devastated.

“My husband is from a long line of bee farmers and bee keeping is his passion as well as our livelihood.

Read more: Paramedics called as man suffers allergic reaction to toothpaste

“Every day I was risking my life by being at home because the bees often come into the house as well as the garden. It was difficult to know what to do.

“The immunotherapy has been life-saving in more ways than one. It has meant that I can still live on the farm and run our business without having to worry about getting stung as I know my body can deal with it.”

Dr Sophie Farooque, an allergy consultant at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “We are referred many patients with a suspected allergy to bee and wasp stings and a considerable number are enrolled on our immunotherapy programme. But it is unusual to meet someone who is in quite so much present danger as Lucy.

“Lucy’s allergy was so severe that just one bee sting could have killed her and every day she was at risk, even in her own home.

“We are able to use the same bee venom that she is allergic to, to fight her allergies and, thankfully, we have now managed to build up her immune system so that she can withstand at least two simultaneous bee stings.”