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Sep 12, 2013 7:15 PM by Caroline Flores - cflores@kristv.com

Football Field Incident Puts Spotlight on Ant Allergies

CORPUS CHRISTI - The incident out at Haas Middle School may have you concerned about whether or not your child is allergic to ants. But as Six News has found out, there's pretty much no way to know that until it happens.

Doctor Wesley Stafford, with the Allergy and Asthma Center of Corpus Christi, says an allergy to fire ants isn't something parents can test for. So, he says to keep a close eye on your children at an early age. If your child is allergic to a fire ant they aren't just going to get a bump where they were bit. He says they may get hives, have difficulty breathing, or go in shock. He says if that happens the child must get treated with allergy shots to prevent a severe reaction, like Cameron had.

When someone has a severe allergic reaction to something like an ant bite, doctors say timing is everything.

"If it doesn't get administered really quickly after an anaphylactic reaction begins then those reactions tend to progress and get more severe and you wind up with situations like we may have with this young man," said Dr. Stafford.

Because of an allergic reaction to ant bites, family of Cameron Espinosa say he is now on life support. Doctors say children getting ant bites at schools is very common, but it's when they are allergic like Cameron that the situation becomes scary.

"Half the population gets stung by a fire ant every year. And when you're allergic to them it's a very frightening situation," said Dr. Stafford.

Cameron's allergic reaction is one that Dr. Stafford says is just about the worst reaction a person can get.

"The scary ones are the ones more similar to what it sounds like this patient has had, where he has actually gone into shock and he's in respiratory failure," said Dr. Stafford.

He says that type of reaction, is one that could be fatal. So when parents know their child is allergic to ants, he says it's extremely important they get their children checked out and treated for that allergy.

"When you become allergic to fire ants it becomes very concerning because you're very likely to get stung again and sometimes in the near future," said Dr. Stafford.

Dr. Stafford says the American Board of Allergy and Immunology is currently trying to get something called EpiPENs in schools. It contains Epinephrine, which he says could save a child's life. This way if a child suffers from an allergic reaction to something like an ant bite, like Cameron, a nurse could give him a shot of Epinephrine right away and hopefully save them from being in critical condition. Dr. Stafford says this medication could be provided to Texas schools by the end of the year.

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