Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Serum Sickness
Serum sickness is an unusual reaction to any foreign substance in
the body. Venom from insect stings or spider bites and medicines such as
penicillin are common causes of this reaction.
Symptoms of serum sickness usually begin between 7 to 10 days
after the person is exposed to the substance. A person usually feels generally
unwell (malaise) and may have hives, joint pain, fever, headache, and swollen
Having an episode of serum sickness puts a person at high risk for
developing a severe allergic reaction if he or she is exposed to the same
substance in the future. A person should avoid any medicine related to serum
sickness after it has been identified. Venom immunotherapy may be an option to
protect against insect or spider bites that caused the reaction.
Current as of:
February 20, 2015
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Rohit K Katial, MD - Allergy and Immunology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
To learn more, visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.