July 1, 2013 – McLean, VA – Today, Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA) and Anaphylaxis Community Experts across the country launch the USAnaphylaxis™ Map, an interactive web tool tracking the progress of state laws regarding emergency anaphylaxis preparedness plans in schools. The tool also links users with AANMA’s Anaphylaxis Community Experts (ACE), state and local volunteers who provide free education and training programs to schools, Scouts, coach and sporting organizations, and emergency response services such as fire departments and rescue squads.
Anaphylaxis kills more than 600 unsuspecting victims each year in the U.S., many with no previous history of allergy. A bee sting or eating the wrong food can cause a deadly response within minutes. An estimated 3 million children have been diagnosed with food allergy, but 25 percent of food-related anaphylaxis reactions in schools occur among students without a diagnosis.
“The only effective treatment for anaphylaxis is auto-injectable epinephrine,” says allergist Richard Weber, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI), AANMA’s partner in the nationwide Anaphylaxis Community Experts (ACE) educational outreach program. “It should be used at the first sign of symptoms, as most deaths occur when treatment is delayed.”
Twenty-five states now have legislation requiring emergency anaphylaxis plans that include staff training for use of epinephrine auto-injectors and allowing schools to stock emergency supplies of the medication to treat life-threatening allergic reactions for students who may not have ever been previously diagnosed. AANMA’s USAnaphylaxis Map tracks legislation across the nation, with links to state laws and educational resources, inviting parents, school staff and other members of the community to further laws in their state and implement new policies.
“Do not wait for the child to collapse before administering the drug,” says Nancy Sander, President and Founder of AANMA, the leading nonprofit patient education organization for people with asthma and allergies. “Sometimes, the allergic reaction advances more rapidly inside than outwardly. But beware: the student may not know how to express what is happening other than a sensation that something is just not right.”
“Schools work hard to provide a safe learning environment for all children,” says Tonya Winders, AANMA’s chief operating officer. “However, most are not prepared to handle life-threatening episodes of anaphylaxis among students who’ve never experienced one before or do not have an epinephrine auto-injector on hand. Simply having the medication available is only the first step. Staff, students and families must also learn to recognize the signs of anaphylaxis and take steps to prevent exposure to allergens.”
The national network of more than 250 Anaphylaxis Community Expert teams (ACE teams) of volunteer allergists, school nurses and parents work with local groups to help coordinate best practices that fit the unique characteristics of each community. ACE teams help schools and parents work together to ensure no student dies of anaphylaxis at school.
The USAnaphylaxis Map builds on AANMA’s efforts to promote safety for children in schools. The organization’s Breathe At School [ http://www.aanma.org/advocacy/meds-at-school/ ] campaign coordinates grassroots support across the country to ensure students have the right to carry their prescribed life-saving asthma and anaphylaxis medications in school. All 50 states have passed laws regarding asthma medications; all except New York have similar laws regarding anaphylaxis medications.
Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA) is the leading national nonprofit organization dedicated to ending needless death and suffering due to asthma, allergies and related conditions. AANMA specializes in sharing family-friendly, medically accurate information through its award-winning publications Allergy & Asthma Today magazine and The MA Report newsletter, its web site at www.aanma.org and numerous community outreach programs. Follow AANMA on Facebook at facebook.com/AANMA and on Twitter at twitter.com/AANMA.
About Anaphylaxis Community Experts (ACE)
ACE is a national, award-winning education, advocacy and outreach partnership program developed and hosted by Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics and the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology; sponsored by Mylan Specialty, LP. http://www.aanma.org/anaphylaxiscommunityexperts