Natalie Giorgi, 13, who was on a vacation with her family at Camp Sacramento in California's Eldorado National Forest, died after eating a crispy rice treat from a tray at the campsite on Friday. She was unable to see, because of the dark, that the dessert contained peanut butter. This ingredient caused a fatal allergic reaction.
Upon realizing she had eaten a treat with peanuts, Natalie spat out and informed her mother. It was too late and in 20 minutes the seventh-grader started to throw-up and began breathing heavily, said a friend of the family.
Three Epinephrine auto-injectors were given, but all of them could not undo the damage that had already been done to the body. She went into a cardiac arrest and died on the way to the hospital.
Pastor Michael Kiernan of Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Natalie's hometown of Carmichael, California, said talking about the girl he knew her well. "She took every care," he said.
Doctor Scott Sicherer, professor of pediatrics and chief of the division of allergy and immunology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, said, "A small amount of peanut, if you're a sensitive person, can be fatal.” He added, "And peanut is a pretty common food, which can be hidden in things, so it's hard to avoid."
One in 20 children in the United States has food allergy, with peanuts being one of the most common forms of allergens. Others included in the group are cow's milk, eggs, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soybeans and wheat. Peanuts are very potent as well.
"Teenagers and young adults seem to be the ones at the highest risk for fatal reactions." He further added, "One of the common themes among children and adults who had fatal reactions is they didn't use the medication in the beginning. And by the time you develop serious symptoms, it can be too late."
Dr. Stanley Fineman, an allergist with the Atlanta Allergy and Asthma clinic, advised that as soon as the first signs of an anaphylaxis are noticed, such as itching in mouth and throat, or simply “feeling funny,” one must use epinephrine, as it is better to take it and not need it than to not take it and need it.
An epinephrine auto-injector is a medical device used to administer a specific amount of adrenaline (ephedrine) to treat acute allergic reactions or to avoid or treat the onset of anaphylactic shock.