Can pesticides trigger allergic reactions? They did in a rare Canadian case
TORONTO – She wasn’t allergic to any of the ingredients, but a Canadian girl had a severe allergic reaction to a slice of blueberry pie.
Quebec researchers who studied her case are now warning: you might not be allergic to the food at hand, but the pesticides on the produce might trigger a bad reaction.
“As far as we know, this is the first report that links an allergic reaction to fruits treated with antibiotic pesticides,” lead author, Dr. Anne Des Roches, said in a statement.
The 10-year-old girl has a medical history of asthma and seasonal allergies. She already knew she’s allergic to penicillin and cow’s milk.
Nothing in the blueberry pie dish was the culprit yet she went into anaphylactic shock, which is a serious allergic reaction.
The Montreal doctors spent weeks studying their patient and the sample of the pie. The dessert didn’t contain milk. The young girl tested negative for allergies to blueberries, nuts, and eggs.
Ultimately, they concluded that it was a pesticide called streptomycin – on the blueberries – that triggered the allergies. Streptomycin is used a drug to fight disease, but it’s also a common pesticide in fruit to stave off the growth of bacteria, fungi and algae, the researchers say.
“Certain European countries ban the use of antibiotics for growing foods, but the United States and Canada still allow them for agricultural purposes,” Des Roches said.
The patient’s allergic reaction is a rarity, the authors concede, but they suggest that it’s an incident that specialists in the field and frontline health care workers need to be aware of.
Their findings were published in this month’s issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
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