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Death Reignites EpiPens in Schools Debate

Public Health

The death of a middle school boy who suffered an allergic reaction to fire ants during a football game has added fuel to the debate about whether schools should stock epinephrine, a potentially life-saving medication for severe allergy attacks, Today.com reports.

| September 19, 2013

The death of a middle school boy who suffered an allergic reaction to fire ants during a football game has added fuel to the debate about whether schools should stock epinephrine, a potentially life-saving medication for severe allergy attacks, Today.com reports.

Cameron Espinosa, 13, was huddling with teammates at Paul R. Haas Middle School in Corpus Christi last Wednesday when he started yelling, "Ants! Ants! Ants!," according to reports. After he collapsed, he was taken to Driscoll Children's Hospital where he died Sunday.

He died just one week after a bill was introduced to the U.S. Senate that would encourage states to require schools to stock epinephrine. The most well-known version of the medication is the EpiPen, a brand of the injectable form, which drives adrenaline into the person suffering an allergic attack.

The article noted that Death from anaphylaxis – a severe, whole-body reaction to an allergen – is rare, killing about 400 Americans each year, says Dr. Anna Nowak-Wegrzyn, an allergist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Food is the most common trigger, but stings from insects – like the fire ants that swarmed Cameron on the middle school football field – cause about 500,000 emergency room visits each year, and about 40 deaths, according to the ACAAI.

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