Allercy and Asthma Health
The Official Publication of AAN - MA

Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics Launches USAnaphylaxis Map


by Tonya Winders, MBA

On July 1 of this year, Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA) launched the USAnaphylaxis™ Map, an interactive web tool to track the progress of state laws regarding emergency anaphylaxis preparedness plans in schools. The tool links users with AANMA's Anaphylaxis Community Experts (ACE), 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 United States, many with no previous history of allergy. A bee sting or eating the wrong food can cause a deadly response within minutes. An estimated three 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. “Epinephrine should be used at the first sign of symptoms, as most deaths occur when treatment is delayed.”

The School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act was introduced on Sept. 12, 2013, in the Senate by Sens. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and co-sponsored by 20 other senators. It encourages states to require schools to keep lifesaving epinephrine on hand and brings this potentially lifesaving legislation one step closer to passage. The companion bill, sponsored by Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (TN) and House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD), was already approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on July 30.

Thirty 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 and contains 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.

Schools work hard to provide a safe learning environment for all children. 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 continued efforts to promote safety for children in schools. The organization’s Breathe 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. For more information on AANMA’s advocacy efforts, visit today!

Tonya Winders is chief operating officer of Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics, based in McLean, VA.
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