Serum sickness in humans is a reaction to proteins in antiserum derived from a non-human animal source, occurring 5–10 days after exposure. Symptoms often include a rash, joint pain, fever, and lymphadenopathy. It is a type of hypersensitivity, specifically immune complex hypersensitivity (type III). The term serum sickness–like reaction (SSLR) is occasionally used to refer to similar illnesses that arise from the introduction of certain non-protein substances, such as penicillin.
Serum sickness may be diagnosed based on the symptoms, and using a blood test and a urine test. It may be prevented by not using an antitoxin derived from animal serum, and through prophylactic antihistamines or corticosteroids. It usually resolves naturally, but may be treated with corticosteroids, antihistamines, analgesics, and (in severe cases) prednisone. It was first characterized in 1906.