Severe reactions merit attention

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The observation has been made in recent years that people are experiencing more and more severe reactions to insect bites. That can mean lingering discomfort or even pain, but in some cases the sting can be a lot more serious.

Robert Parker told the story this week of his frightening experience, being stung by a wasp, and though he’d never had an allergic reaction before, of going through the life-threatening symptoms of anaphylactic shock. Dealing with it involved an emergency visit by fire department first responders and EHS paramedics, a shot of epinephrine and a trip to the hospital.

He was told by a doctor that the ordeal was a close brush with death. We’re thankful to Parker for sharing this story. He said he wants people to be aware of the potential danger and, as much as possible, take precautions.

Maintaining awareness about the EpiPen – which delivers an emergency shot of epinephrine, buying time to get medical aid – and the danger of anaphylactic reaction has had a high profile in the area for some years thanks to the activity of the Karen Lynn MacDonald Allergy Society. The organization, formed after the tragic death of MacDonald, has striven to both educate the public and raise funds to ensure anyone who needs one, isn’t without this emergency device.

Naturally, someone who is aware of a severe allergy is probably going to have a prescription for an EpiPen and have it on hand in case of emergency. But what happens, as in Parker’s case, to the person who has never had a problem before, but suddenly undergoes a severe reaction?

Whether somewhat rare or not, we can imagine a similar story befalling someone else.

Community health representatives should give this dilemma some thought. We’ve gone through a similar campaign to make defibrillators more widely available in public settings. Is there a logical and efficient way to make the potentially lifesaving EpiPen more readily available in communities? It’s worth discussing.

Organizations: Karen Lynn MacDonald Allergy Society

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