One in 13 school children are allergic to at least one type of food, according to the Virginia-based Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE). Allergy attacks, more often than not, happen in schools where infirmaries aren’t sufficiently equipped to deal with anaphylactic shock. However, the struggle to save children from allergy attacks at school have recently taken a new turn, particularly in Arizona.
In late September, Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law Senate Bill 1421, amending certain provisions in the Arizona Revised Statutes relating to pupil safety. Among the most notable features of the bill is the emergency administration of epinephrine by school nurses and other trained personnel. This will allow schools to stock up on epinephrine pens for rapid response against allergy attacks.
For Raquel Scharf-Anderson, principal of Paredes Jewish Day School in Phoenix, it beats waiting for 911 to arrive. Schools can finally deal with allergies with their own hands.
“With the new epinephrine law, it enables us to have epinephrine on campus ready to go for a student, a parent, an adult who works on campus who maybe gets a bee sting and doesn’t know they are anaphylactic,” Scharf-Anderson said.
The medical community widely considers epinephrine to be the initial treatment for various kinds of allergy attacks. The drug works by relaxing the muscles and tightening blood vessels to promote blood flow, as allergy attack symptoms often include difficulty in breathing and weak pulse. Pre-filled pens are the most common method of administering epinephrine.
Currently, Arizona is one of 27 states that have passed an emergency epinephrine law. Other states include Virginia, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Georgia, and Kansas.
A Phoenix allergist, however, should advise against epinephrine as the primary remedy for allergy attacks. Epinephrine reacts faster compared to other drugs, which is why it’s used as initial treatment for anaphylactic shock. However, experts say that further treatment should be performed at a hospital or any medical facility, especially for severe cases.
It’s also recommended to bring allergies to the attention of allergy centers like Adult & Pediatric Allergy Associates, P.C. After an attack, in this case, a Phoenix allergist that immunology centers employ can examine the patient and recommend the most suitable lifestyle.
(Article video and excerpt from “New epinephrine law could save a child’s life at school,” AZFamily.com, September 25, 2013)