What is Anaphylaxis?
Anaphylaxis is a hypersensitivity to a substance, insect sting, food allergy, medication, or exercise that may become life threatening.
Symptoms may include:
- Shortness of breath,
- difficulty breathing, talking, or swallowing,
- or asthma.
Treatment for anaphylaxis includes using an epinephrine auto-injector, which is a disposable drug delivery system that offers safe, rapid, and convenient first-aid for a potentially fatal anaphylactic reaction.
Swift access to an epinephrine auto-injector is critical for someone experiencing anaphylaxis.
Anaphylaxis at School
Children often suffer from anaphylactic reactions at school. Approximately 20-25 percent of these events occur in a child whose allergic condition was unknown by the school at the time of the reaction. As a a result, no prescribed epinephrine was on hand for that child.
Schools are responsible for immediate care of students and staff experiencing life-threatening events. In order to respond effectively to these events, schools must have adequate planning and resources. A recent case of fatal, food-induced anaphylaxis in a Virginia girl at school highlights the need for advance preparation.
Administering Epinephrine Quickly Can Save Lives
Though not all reactions are severe, some reactions - especially to peanut, tree nuts, and shellfish - can be life threatening. A key risk factor for fatal anaphylaxis is delayed administration of epinephrine.
Limited numbers of school health officials, the absence of a standardized approach to food allergy emergency planning, and unavailability of a standing order epinephrine (ready supplies of epinephrine on hand) place many Utah school children at risk for anaphylaxis in the school setting.
In 2008 the Utah Legislature passed H.B. 101. This act allows a school, school board, or school official to encourage a school employee to volunteer to receive training. Participation is strictly voluntary.
This law also allows anyone 18 years of age or older who successfully completes an approved training program to obtain a prescription for an epinephrine auto-injector and administer unassigned epinephrine during an emergency.