Anaphylaxis Legislation gets Presidential Seal of Approval

HowtoUseYourEpiPen644x356-process-sc644x356-t1338817363SRxA is delighted to announce that earlier this week President Obama signed into law the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act.  During a week in which Obama and his new healthcare.gov website have made headlines for all the wrong reasons, we thought it only fair to commend him on this important anaphylaxis initiative.

The School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act is legislation that will help to protect schoolchildren who experience life-threatening anaphylaxis.

This legislation is a significant milestone for food, venom and latex allergy safety in our nation’s schools,” says Tonya Winders, chief operating officer of Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA). “It will help save lives of children who experience an anaphylactic reaction for the first time or don’t have epinephrine auto-injectors readily available when anaphylaxis occurs.”

Think Fast Allergy Symptoms PicThe measure provides a funding incentive to states that enact laws allowing school personnel to stock and administer emergency supplies of epinephrine auto-injectors. Epinephrine is the first line of treatment for anaphylaxis.

The School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act was bipartisan legislation, first passing the U.S. House of Representatives on July 30, 2013, and then the U.S. Senate on Oct. 31, 2013, before heading to the President’s desk.

Allergic reactions to foods are the most common cause of anaphylaxis in community settings, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Studies show that 16-18% of schoolchildren with food allergies have had a reaction from accidentally ingesting food allergens. In addition, 25% of anaphylaxis cases reported at schools happened in children with no prior history of food allergy.

USAnaphylaxis_10_14_13As of today, 28 states have passed emergency stock epinephrine legislation and six have bills pending.  Let’s hope this legislation will spur the remaining states to follow as soon as possible.

Green states that have passed stock epinephrine laws or regulations:

AlaskaArkansasArizonaCaliforniaColoradoFloridaGeorgiaIllinoisKansasKentuckyLouisiana,MarylandMassachusettsMinnesotaMissouriMontanaNebraskaNevadaNorth DakotaOklahoma,OregonSouth CarolinaTennesseeUtahVirginiaVermontWashington, and West Virginia

Yellow states have pending stock epinephrine bills:
MichiganNew JerseyNew YorkNorth CarolinaOhio and Pennsylvania

Red states that have no stock epinephrine bills: 
AlabamaConnecticutDelawareHawaiiIdahoIndianaIowaMaineMississippiNew HampshireNew MexicoRhode IslandSouth DakotaTexasWisconsin, and Wyoming

To find out more about anaphylaxis in schools please visit http://www.epipen4schools.com/ and https://www.anaphylaxis101.com/Resource-Library/Anaphylaxis-in-Schools.asp

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Kudos to Canada

HamiltonOntarioSkylineCThis morning, SRxA’s Word on Health salutes the Canadian city of Hamilton, Ontario, for its pioneering lead in anaphylaxis safety. Hamilton is destined to become the first city in the world to require all food service outlets to have life-saving epinephrine auto-injectors on hand for people with severe food allergies.

The move is being led by Hamilton Councillor  – Lloyd Ferguson, in hopes of avoiding sudden and tragic deaths like one this past spring of a Stoney Creek girl.

MaiaTwelve-year-old Maia Santarelli-Gallo had what her doctor said was a mild allergy to eggs and milk that had only ever caused her a runny nose. But last March, while eating an ice cream cone at a Hamilton-area mall with her father and older sister, Maia experienced a sudden, severe allergic reaction.

Her sister found someone with an epinephrine injector, but by the time it was administered, it was too late. Emergency crews took Maia to hospital but she was pronounced dead.

epipen dispenserWhen Councillor Ferguson heard about Maia’s death, he decided to draft a ground-breaking motion to get epinephrine auto-injectors in every restaurant and mall in the city.

He says it’s high time that food providers have access to medicines that could help their customers who develop allergic reactions. He says if automated external defibrillator (AEDs) are now being installed in arenas and other community centers, it makes sense to have epinephrine injectors in areas where food allergy reactions are most likely to occur.

AEDs in schoolsIt took us about 40 years to get defibrillators into public facilities and they have been a great success. This is the next step,” he says.

Allergy specialist Dr. Mark Greenwald, Allergist, and Chief Medical Officer of EpiCenter Medical would like to go further and see public awareness campaigns that would train the public on how to use epinephrine injectors, just as there have been campaigns encouraging people to learn CPR.

Greenwald has developed an online course called EpiPenTraining.com, to offer training on how to recognize allergic reactions, and how to use the injectors. He says such training is vital because during anaphylaxis, seconds count.

And anaphylaxis isn’t rare.  Allergic disease is the 5th most prevalent chronic disease among all ages, and the 3rd most prevalent among children. Every 3 minutes in North America, a food allergic reaction sends someone to the Emergency Room. Every 6 minutes, that Emergency Room visit is for anaphylaxis, that’s 10 patients per hour!

In 25% of people requiring treatment, the reaction is their first episode, and they are completely unprepared.  And for 50% of the people who die from anaphylaxis, the victims had life-saving epinephrine, but it wasn’t used or it wasn’t used in time. The other 50% didn’t carry epinephrine despite their previous allergic episodes.

SAVE certificateParticipants in the online course become SAVE certified – Save Anaphylaxis Victims in an Emergency.

Debbie Bruce of the Canadian Anaphylaxis Initiative was part of a program this past spring to get epinephrine injectors on all fire trucks in Mississauga. She says that like Maia, up to one-third of people who have allergic reactions outside the home did not realize they had a severe allergy and didn’t carry an epinephrine injector. She is now petitioning politicians  to come up with a national allergy plan.

I think it is a new reality,” she says. “Reactions happen and we need to be prepared.”

Maia’s mother, Leah Santarelli, backs all efforts to make the public more aware of anaphylaxis and hopes the Hamilton city council passes Ferguson’s motion.

There’s no guarantee that an EpiPen will save your life 100 per cent of the time, just like a defibrillator won’t save you 100 per cent of the time, but it is there as a safety measure,” she says.

The motion is currently being reviewed by the city’s health team; if approved, it should go before Hamilton city council in October.

We certainly hope that it does and that this trend will rapidly spread across the borders.  As Greenwald says – every second counts!

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Protecting Kids with temporary tattoos

food allergiesParents of the three million or so kids in the US who have been diagnosed with food allergies whose kids have severe food allergies know they can’t be too careful. One bite of the food they are allergic to could be deadly. Indeed, according to the CDS, more than 200 people with food allergies die every year as a result of anaphylaxis.

Now, Michele Walsh, a mother of three from Baltimore, has created SafetyTat  to help remind teachers, classmates and babysitters to be extra careful.

temp tattooThe safety tats are brightly colored temporary tattoos or long-lasting write-on stickers that can be placed prominently on a child’s arm, with information such as “ALERT: NUT ALLERGY” or other critical information.

When you leave a child in someone else’s care at school or camp, “no matter how many times you fill out the forms, you’re still taking a leap of faith,” Walsh says. “This is like my voice with my son when I’m not there. It’s almost like teaching them ‘stop, drop and roll…’ They know exactly what to do.”

Another company –  Allermates offers allergy education tools, stickers, alert bracelets and other products for kids. Allermates was created by Iris Shamus, inspired by her son’s multiple allergies and an incident at school. “When you have a child with a food allergy, you’re always worried. It’s just part of your life,” she says. “I wanted to have something a little more personalized for him to remind teachers and babysitters.”

allermatesIt began with a fun necklace, then a wristband and a large selection of products accompanied by cartoon characters such as Nutso, a charming peanut, to help her son understand, remember and confidently discuss his allergies.

It makes me feel so much more secure,” she says. “I know you can’t be there all the time when you’re a mom, and this gives you peace of mind.”

Anything that can help educate the patient about their problem and continue to make them aware about it is helpful whether it’s a temporary tattoo or a warning bracelet,” says Stan Fineman MD, immediate past president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.  “The important thing is for people to accurately find out what they’re allergic to and then make sure to take the appropriate precautions,” Fineman says. He says parents of kids with severe allergies should keep EpiPens on hand, check school policies, talk to school officials and bring in treats their kids can eat for special events.

allermates 2Betsy Shea of Chicago says both of her boys, 4-year-old Colin and 2-year-old Emmet, have nut allergies, and Colin wears Allermates’ green snap-on wristband featuring Nutso. She’s thinking about trying temporary tattoos for Emmet.

Having allergies herself, she remembers having to wear the traditional metal medical alert band, which made her feel different and self-conscious. But Colin “loves that band. He wears it with pride and thinks it’s just so cool. We couldn’t get him to take it off for a while,” she says.

We thinks it’s pretty cool too!

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Welcome to World Allergy Week

WAWlogo_clearToday marks the start of the World Allergy Organization’s (WAO) annual World Allergy Week.

During the 2013 event, WAO together with its 93 national Member Societies, will be addressing the topic of “Food Allergy – A Rising Global Health Problem,” and its growing burden on children.

Globally, it’s estimated that as many as 220-250 million people suffer from food allergy.  And the incidence is on the rise in both developed and developing countries, especially in children.

During World Allergy Week WAO plans to highlight the need for greater awareness and understanding of food allergy as well as the exchange of ideas and collaboration in order to address a variety of safety and quality-of-life issues related to the care of patients with food sensitivity.

According to Professor Ruby Pawankar, President of the World Allergy Organization, “There are problems that need to be addressed in many countries throughout the world such as the lack of awareness of food allergies, lack of standardized national anaphylaxis action plans for food allergy, limited or no access to epinephrine auto-injectors, and the lack of food labeling laws. Moreover, some countries have standardized action plans but no ready access to auto-injectors; while others have auto-injectors but no standardized action plans.”

An important part of the initiative of World Allergy Week 2013 is to advocate for the safety and quality of life of patients who suffer from food hypersensitivity. WAO has also produced a list of online food allergy resources for healthcare professionals and patients / caregivers, which we have reproduced below.

HEALTHCARE RESOURCES

Kids Teased about Food Allergies No Laughing Matter

Access the article

WAO White Book on Allergy

Access the book

Food Allergy: Pathogenesis and Prevention
World Allergy Forum, December 2012, Orlando, Florida, USA
Access the presentations

Food Allergy
Cassim Motala, Joaquín Sastre, Dolores Ibáñez
WAO Global Resources in Allergy (GLORIA™), 2009, updated 2011
Access slide deck

Cow’s Milk Allergy in Children
Access the summary

Anaphylaxis
Richard F. Lockey, September 2012, updated Disease Summary

Access the summary

WAO Diagnosis and Rationale for Action against Cow’s Milk Allergy (DRACMA) Guidelines
Access the article

ICON: Food Allergy
The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2012; 129(4): 906-920
Access the article

World Allergy Organization Guidelines for the Assessment and Management of Anaphylaxis
World Allergy Organization Journal, 4:13-37, February 2011
Access the article

PATIENT / CAREGIVER RESOURCES

PrintFood Allergy Research & Education (FARE)

The FARE website has an abundant source of valuable resources specifically for patients suffering from food allergies and the people who care for them, including:


anaphylaxis-campaignAnaphylaxis Campaign

The Anaphylaxis Campaign is a UK charity catering exclusively to the needs of people at risk from anaphylaxis by providing information and support relating to foods and other triggers such as latex, drugs and insect stings.
The AllergyWise online programs provide training for families, carers and individuals as well as health professionals. General information on Anaphylaxis and Severe Allergy

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Emergency! Epinephrine in Anaphylaxis: under-use and inappropriate use by EMS

anaphylaxis 3Despite a decline in anaphylaxis deaths over the past 25 years, lack of epinephrine and incorrect administration of epinephrine still play a significant role in mortality.

According to a retrospective case study by researchers from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario only a quarter of patients received epinephrine prior to cardiac arrest, including those treated by emergency medicine personnel.

anaphylaxis deathsOf the 80 deaths recorded in Ontario from 1986 – 2011, 47 had a known or suspected allergy to the fatal allergen, but only 18 had been prescribed an epinephrine auto-injector and only 9 had their auto-injector at the time of the reaction. And at least 8 of these people received epinephrine that was either expired or administered incorrectly.

The low proportion of patients who received epinephrine correctly may indicate that more information is needed by both patients and first responders regarding indications and techniques for administering epinephrine and auto-injectors,” said lead investigator, Ya Sophia Xu, MD

Most of the fatalities were caused by food allergy (n = 37), insect sting (n = 27), or medication (n = 11).  But in 5 patients, death occurred with no known allergen.

More than half (59%) of the food-related fatalities involved food eaten away from home – at public places including school, camp, or another person’s home.

Patients with food allergies should be especially vigilant when eating outside of the home,” added Dr. Xu “restaurants need to improve the labeling and disclosure of potential allergens to the public.”

The study also revealed that Coroners’ reports are sometimes lacking information about the severity of previous allergic reactions, level of asthma control, time of administration of the first epinephrine dose, body mass index of patients, and anatomical location of the epinephrine injection.

Ambulance at Emergency EntranceRyan Jacobsen, MD, EMT who is associate emergency medical services director for the Kansas City Fire Department in Missouri commented “there seems a perception among pre-hospital personnel that the administration of epinephrine is dangerous.”  He and his colleagues recently published a study with very similar results.

Dr. Jacobsen’s team surveyed 3,500 nationally registered paramedics in the United States and found that 36.2% of responders felt there were contraindications to the administration of epinephrine for a patient in anaphylactic shock. And 40% of paramedics (incorrectly) believed that diphenhydramine was the first-line medication for a patient suffering from anaphylactic shock.

They also had challenges in the recognition of atypical presentations of anaphylaxis and determining the correct location and route of epinephrine administration,” he said.

Only 2.9% correctly identified atypical presentation of anaphylaxis, while less than half (46.2%) identified epinephrine as the initial drug of choice. Equally concerning, only 38.9% correctly chose the intramuscular route of administration, while 60.6% incorrectly identified the deltoid, rather than the anterolateral thigh as the preferred injection site location.

As an EMS educator I spend much of my time, discussing the 5 Rights of Administration: right patient, right time, right drug, right route, right dose.

Yet, according to this study, it seems as if emergency medical personnel are routinely failing on all 5 when it comes to anaphylaxis.

Basically, we have the same issues in the United States that were found in the Canadian study,” says Jacobsen. “There needs to be an aggressive educational campaign geared toward emergency personnel in both the safety of epinephrine and its importance as the first-line therapy for anaphylaxisThe benefits of epinephrine almost always outweigh the risks, but there’s a reluctance to use it. Patients get palpitations, they might get a headache, their heart rate goes up, but it’s a potentially life-saving treatment.

Amen to that.

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Doctors Deficient in Anaphylaxis Care

Having just returned from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) annual meeting, we’re spoiled for choice of news. But among all the science there was one stand out shocker.  In a session on Sunday, physicians presented the results of a survey, sponsored by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). During this, they revealed that a disturbingly high proportion of primary care and emergency physicians don’t know how to treat anaphylaxis.

Interviews with 318 physicians indicated that:

  • substantial numbers do not always provide epinephrine to patients – even those  they believe are having anaphylactic reactions
  • they often fail to refer anaphylaxis patients for follow-up care
  • they believe incorrectly that some patients should not receive epinephrine auto-injectors

Myron Zitt, MD, says the results reveal “likely deficiencies in physician knowledge,” and corroborate results from earlier chart review studies.

In the telephone-based survey, researchers conducted interviews lasting an average of 19 minutes with approximately 100 emergency room physicians, 100 allergists, 50 adult primary care physicians, and 50 pediatricians.

82% to 99% of respondents in each group said they had treated at least one anaphylaxis case.

Although epinephrine is supposed to be given to all patients having such reactions, about 10% of emergency room physicians and 20% of primary care and pediatric physicians said they had done something else.  These “something else’s” included prescribed another drug, sending the patient to a hospital, or an “other” action.

Prescribing of auto-injectors for patients to take home also was far from universal. Barely 60% of emergency room physicians said they did. In fact, emergency physicians were generally bad at all phases of follow-up care. They rarely referred patients for diagnostic tests, they almost never demonstrated use of an auto-injector, and seldom explained that auto-injectors have an expiration date.

Another disturbing finding from the survey, Zitt said, was that many physicians of all types – even the allergists – mistakenly believed that some patients should never receive epinephrine.

In the same session, Akhil Chouksey, MD, reported that anaphylaxis care in a major teaching hospital usually failed to meet guidelines established by a consortium of allergy societies including the ACAAI.  In a 10-year review of anaphylaxis cases only 15% met the standards of care recommendations i.e. that epinephrine be administered within 30 minutes of triage, that auto-injectors be prescribed at discharge, and that patients be referred to an allergist or immunologist for follow-up investigations and treatment.

The review also found that in 26% of cases in which anaphylaxis was definitively confirmed, the patients never received epinephrine.  Antihistamines, such as benadryl (diphenhydramine), were given in nearly all cases but epinephrine was omitted in one-quarter. In fact, epinephrine was only the third most commonly administered medication, with corticosteroids such as methylprednisolone, taking the second spot after antihistamines.

During the question-and-answer period, an audience member suggested that, when patients present with relatively mild symptoms, the treating physicians may decide that epinephrine isn’t needed at that point.  Zitt countered, that this was a very dangerous approach.

The national guidelines state explicitly that there are no absolute contraindications to epinephrine. Nevertheless, 16% of the pediatric allergists and 32% of the other allergists said there were such contraindications, as did 38% of adult primary care and emergency physicians.

Also common were beliefs that schools, restaurants, and ambulances always stock epinephrine. In fact, Zitt said, there are no general requirements for schools or restaurants to do so, and approximately half of all ambulances do not have epinephrine on hand.

Clearly there is much work still to be done in terms of education.  SRxA’s Word on Health suggests a first step would be to instill a healthy fear of anaphylaxis into doctors and the general public while simultaneously removing the fear of epinephrine.

Or as Dr Zitt says, “Give epinephrine first, ask questions later.”

Modern Family’s Emmy winning actress takes on the most important role of her life

Actress Julie Bowen, recently awarded her second Emmy for her role in the hit TV comedy “Modern Family,” started a more serious role last week: raising awareness about life-threatening childhood allergies and anaphylaxis.

The two-time best supporting actress in a comedy series and mother of three knows firsthand about potentially fatal allergic reactions. Her oldest son, Oliver, was 2 years old when he developed anaphylaxis as a result of a double-whammy exposure to a bee sting coupled with a bit of peanut butter.

“We had no reason to suspect we might have a problem. He had had peanuts before. And he had always been fine,” explained Bowen. “But then one day we found out that, no, he’s not.”

Almost immediately, Oliver’s face swelled dramatically. Other symptoms of anaphylaxis include chest pain; hives; breathing difficulties; tightening of the throat; lip and tongue swelling; nausea; dizziness and fainting.

Bowen’s husband, who was at home with the toddler, was terrified. “He knew it was bad.” Oliver was rushed to the hospital and immediately given an injection of epinephrine – the drug used for the emergency treatment of anaphylactic reactions that can follow exposure to allergens such as peanuts, walnuts, shellfish, bee stings, medications and/or latex.

Although any child can develop an allergy, or abnormal immune response, they are more likely to occur in people whose family members also have allergies.

Bowen now is spearheading the nationwide awareness campaign with the help of Mylan Specialty L.P., the pharmaceutical company that makes EpiPen®.

The goal is education,” said Bowen. “We, as parents, can’t always be with our children all day, every day. So we want the people around them to be educated.”

Thankfully, Oliver made a full and quick recovery. “Once he had the proper medicine, it was a very quick process,” she noted. “But today we always carry epinephrine with us wherever we go.”

Food allergies are the leading cause of anaphylaxis. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that food allergies in children have increased 18% since 1997. More than 9,000 children are hospitalized because of severe food allergies each year.

Many allergic reactions occur when children accidentally consume foods they’re allergic to at school. According to the CDC as many as one-quarter of anaphylaxis happens in students with no history of food allergies.

Parents and school employees shouldn’t dismiss a child’s complaints, Bowen says, “We want parents and teachers to know the signs, so that if you see them coughing, scratching at their throat some, or that they’ve got some rash, that you go ahead and look into it further.”

If you suspect your child may have an allergic reaction to anything, get it checked out. Call 911 and get medical attention immediately because there’s no way to guarantee that your child is never going to have an anaphylactic reaction.

The odds are not insignificant. “One to two children in each classroom could potentially be at risk for a serious food allergy,” says Dr. Carla Davis, an assistant professor of pediatrics in the section of immunology, allergy and rheumatology at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.  Of those, 30-40% would be at risk for life-threatening anaphylaxis.

Epinephrine is the first-line treatment, and caregivers must act quickly in order to treat effectively.  How quickly? Ideally, within minutes of the child developing a reaction.

For more information on anaphylaxis, visit the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network.

Food Allergy Organizations Unite to Combat the Crisis and Find a Cure

In the United States, food allergies send a person to the emergency room every three minutes and account for over a million emergency department visits each year. For about 140,000 patients each year, their food allergies result in anaphylaxis – a serious life-threatening consequence. Of these, up to 1,000, many of them children, will die.

Which is why we were pleased to learn that the nation’s two leading food allergy organizations are planning to merge.

Rather than competing for funding, as they have in the past, the Food Allergy Initiative (FAI) and the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) will unite. In doing so they hope to secure the private and public support needed to advance a cure for food allergies, and provide critical resources for food-allergic individuals and families.

Recent research shows that food allergies are a significant and growing public health issue affecting 1 out of every 13 children – roughly two in every classroom. With nearly 40% of these children already having experienced a severe or life-threatening food-allergic reaction, the need for a cure is urgent.

The merger will combine FAAN’s expertise as a trusted source of information, programs, and resources related to food allergy and anaphylaxis with FAI’s leadership as the world’s largest private source of funding for food allergy research.

FAI and FAAN have collaborated for nearly 15 years on initiatives to increase understanding of the severity of food allergies and to support food-allergic families,” said Todd Slotkin, chairman of FAI. “Bringing together the considerable expertise and resources that both organizations offer will elevate both our ongoing private commitment to find a cure for food allergies and our work on behalf of the food-allergic community.”

Every day we work with thousands of families across the United States who are dealing with the serious physical, social, and emotional impacts of food allergies,” said Janet Atwater, chair of FAAN. “The unification of FAAN and FAI allows us to move forward together as an even stronger champion for these families and the driving force advancing research to find a cure.”

SRxA’s Word on Health applauds this initiative and looks forward to seeing the benefits of this collaboration. In the meantime we think the ‘more can be achieved by collaborating than competing‘ message could be an important one for congress.

Allergic to Valentine’s Day?

Does Valentine’s Day make you sick?

Those of us who don’t expect to receive cards and flowers tomorrow, would probably rather fast-forward to February 15th than endure a day of being surrounded by loved-up romantics.

However, it seems that it’s not only singletons who want to forget the 14th. People with food allergies may also want to give cupid a wide berth.

Having an allergic reaction immediately after kissing someone who has eaten the food or taken the medication that you are allergic to isn’t highly unusual,” says allergist Sami Bahna, MD. “However some patients react after their partner has brushed his or her teeth or several hours after eating. It turns out that their partners’ saliva is excreting the allergen hours after the food or medicine has been absorbed by their body.”

Symptoms of kissing allergies include swelling of the lips or throat, rash, hives, itching and wheezing.

When things turn more intimate, allergies can be even more disruptive. Allergists have seen cases of people experiencing allergies to chemicals in spermicides, lubricants, latex or even a partner’s semen. Some people even develop hives or wheezing from the natural chemicals released by their own body during sexual interaction.

So what are lovebirds to do?

If you suffer from food or medication allergies, before puckering up you should ask your partner to brush his or her teeth, rinse his or her mouth and avoid the offending food for 16 to 24 hours before smooching.  For people allergic to their partner’s semen, we suggest the use of condoms or better still, that you visit your allergist to discuss immunotherapy or allergy shots.

Whether you’re celebrating  Valentine’s Day tomorrow or not, SRxA’s Word on Health wishes you a happy and healthy February 14th.

Be S.A.F.E.

SRxA’s Word on Health was deeply saddened to hear of the seven-year-old girl from Chesterfield County, Virginia who died this week after suffering an allergic reaction at school.  According to news reports she was given a peanut from another child who was unaware of her allergy.

Our heartfelt condolences go out to her family and friends. We dedicate this blog as a tribute to her and all the other children who have lost their lives to anaphylaxis.

Although there’s no cure for food allergies, as we’ve reported in the past, such deaths are almost entirely preventable with proper education and immediate treatment with epinephrine.   And even though we don’t know all the details of this case, what we do know is that food allergies are on the rise. 8% of children under age 18 in the United States have at least one food allergy.

Now, we’d like your help to prevent a similar tragedy from happening in the future.

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology’s  Be S.A.F.E. campaign is dedicated to educating patients and healthcare professionals on the steps needed to save lives. We urge you to read the campain’s action guide and share it with your colleagues, friends, and relatives. If you have kids in school, make sure the teachers are aware of it. If you use a gym, make sure the trainers know. Tell your favorite restaurant, share with your employer…the list goes on and on.

BE SAFE

Seek immediate medical help. Call 911 and get to the nearest emergency facility at the first sign of anaphylaxis, even if you have already administered epinephrine.

Identify the Allergen. Think about what you might have eaten or come in contact with – food, insect sting, medication, latex – to trigger an allergic reaction. It is particularly important to identify the cause because the best way to prevent anaphylaxis is to avoid its trigger.

Follow up with a Specialist. Ask your doctor for a referral to an allergist/immunologist, a physician who specializes in treating asthma and allergies. It is important that you consult an allergist for testing, diagnosis and ongoing management of your allergic disease.

Carry Epinephrine for emergencies. If you are at risk for anaphylaxis, make sure that you carry an epinephrine kit with you at all times, and that family and friends know of your condition, your triggers and how to use epinephrine. Consider wearing an emergency medical bracelet or necklace identifying yourself as a person at risk of anaphylaxis. Teachers and other caregivers should be informed of children who are at risk for anaphylaxis and know what to do in an allergic emergency.

So there you have it. 4 simple steps that could save lives. Go share them!