An 11-Year-Old With Food Allergies Allegedly Died After Breathing In Fish Fumes

October 18, 2019

Food allergies are something not to mess with. And for people who have them, avoiding trigger foods about more than just not eating it – inhaling the aroma of the allergen in question can also cause a reaction.

So accused Steven Jean-Pierre, who said his 11-year-old son Cameron died from being exposed to the smell of cooking fish. Cameron was visiting his grandmother’s home in New York where the cod was cooking on the stove, reports the Washington Post. He had a known seafood allergy. After he started wheezing, his father treated him with the boy’s nebulizer machine, which is used during asthma attacks. It didn’t help, so Jean-Pierre called 911.Sadly, Cameron was pronounced dead at the hospital.

“He loved life,” Jean-Pierre told The Post.” He touched so many people in his 11 years on this earth.”

Considered one of the top eight food allergens, fish causes a life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Surprisingly, according to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), 40 percent of people who are allergic to fish will have their first reaction in adulthood.

While you may think that people with fish allergies need to avoid eating fish fillets, they also need to avoid cross-contamination during the cooking process – and possibly even inhaling fish fumes. According to the FARE website, “Being in any area where fish is being cooked puts you at risk because the fish proteins may be in the vapors.” Inhaling food particles can cause sneezing, coughing, wheezing, runny nose and pink eye in people with allergies.

It’s enough to send someone with a food allergy off the rails. But here’s what actually happens.” Anaphylaxis, or a severe allergic reaction, is exceptionally rare from inhaling a food allergen and almost always requires ingestion,” David Stukus, MD, a pediatric allergist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, tells Health.” Rare cases of fish or shellfish protein becoming aerosolized while cooking on the stovetop have been reported. Heat is an important factor. Incidental exposure from sitting next to a person eating food does not cause anaphylaxis,” he adds. Asthma can predispose a person to this type of reaction, or exacerbate it, as well.

If you or a loved one has a food allergy, it’s important to work with your doctor on how to avoid accidentally ingesting the allergen. It’s also important to carry an epinephrine auto-injector (such as an EpiPen) in the event of anaphylaxis.” Epinephrine is the only effective treatment for anaphylaxis and should be given promptly and then transported to the nearest emergency department for monitoring and/or additional treatment,” says Dr. Stukus.

It’s a hard line to walk. Allergy medications such as diphenhydramine are not a substitute for epinephrine. With prompt medical attention, including administration of epinephrine, “Fortunately fatalities from food allergies are rare,” says Dr. Stukus.