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Pop quiz! What do a peanut butter sandwich in the cafeteria, a latex glove in the science lab and a honeybee on the playground all have in common? For some, an encounter with any one of these items could cause a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).
Anaphylaxis can be triggered with little to no warning, and life-threatening allergic emergencies happen in school each year. Avoidance of allergens is the best strategy to reduce the risk of anaphylaxis. However, despite everyone's efforts, allergens are not always obvious and accidental exposure may still happen. Further, trigger avoidance only works if you know you have allergies in the first place. First-time reactions at school do happen. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 25% of reported school anaphylaxis cases, there was no previous diagnosis of a food allergy.
That is why everyone in the school community – teachers, students, nurses and administrators – should help those at risk avoid their allergic triggers, know the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis, be ready to use an epinephrine auto-injector and seek immediate medical care if a life-threatening allergic reaction occurs.