HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Earlier in the month, thousands of New York City parents signed a petition asking their mayor to send EpiPens to all New York City Schools after a 3-year-old suffered a fatal dairy allergy reaction when someone at his Harlem school gave him a grilled cheese sandwich.
In light of this tragedy, Merit Health Wesley Emergency Room Physician Dr. Daniel Crane reminds us of the dangers of food allergies and how to act.
"Make sure that you are documenting if your child has an allergy and things like that so everyone knows," Crane said.
Crane said he sees the smallest patients come to the emergency room due to allergic reactions all year.
"Food allergies affect about 4 to 6 percent of children, so definitely common in the community," Crane said.
He said there are eight common allergens that cause 90 percent of food allergies.
"Eggs, milk, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat," Crane said.
Crane said the signs of an allergic reaction won't always be the common symptoms of hives, swelling, or shortness of breath each time a reaction happens.
"They interact with the food again and then they have a much more severe allergy and it causes real problems," Crane said.
Those real problems can be fatal. So, what do you do when an allergic reaction strikes?
"Bring them to the emergency room because some people can have anaphylaxis, a life threatening reaction to these allergies, and you don't want that in your house," Crane said. "You want that to be here so we can take care of them."
After an emergency room visit, Crane said your doctor will make sure treatment can be in the palm of your hands.
"Anyone that comes into the emergency department with an allergic reaction we give them an EpiPen," Crane said. "We give them a prescription for that so that they can go to the pharmacy and get one, usually we give them two because we want you to be prepared even if the first time was a mild reaction, the second time could be much more severe, even life-threatening."
Crane added before using an EpiPen, make sure you can see which side is up, the safety is off, and inject with the needle down into the lateral thigh muscle.
A couple of schools in the Pine Belt have EpiPen policies for students with food allergies. Laurel School District and Lamar County School District both stated the schools adhere to the instruction left by the parent and doctor regarding children with a prescription for EpiPens.
They added the devices are kept in a safe and easily accessible place for the child, and school faculty and staff are made aware of the child's allergy issues.
In Lamar County, the superintendent's office stated at least one employee at each school receives training from a registered nurse or licensed physician to give the shot.