A first-grade girl, with life-threatening peanut allergies, was being asked by several parents at a public school in Edgewater, Florida, to be removed from the classroom and home-schooled, rather than other students having to constantly deal with special rules to protect the girl’s health.
"That was one of the suggestions that kept coming forward from parents, to have her home schooled. But we're required by federal law to provide accommodations. That's just not even an option for us, " Nancy Wait, spokeswoman for the Volusia County School District said.
Wait considers the 6-year-old's peanut allergy to be so serious it should be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Wait said during a spring break a peanut-sniffing dog checked out the school. Before entering the classroom in the morning other students in her class are obliged to wash their hands and after lunch rinse out their mouths in order to protect the young girl.
"If I had a daughter who had a problem, I would not ask everyone else to change their lives to fit my life, " Burr said. As a father of two older students at the school, whose wife has protested at the campus, said a lot of small accommodations have totalled up to frustration for numerous parents.
Asthmatics with peanut sensitivity are more likely to develop life threatening reactions. Extreme reaction to peanuts can create anaphylactic shock, which if left untreated, can cause death due to obstruction of the upper or lower airway (bronchospasm), or hypotension and heart failure. This can happen within a very short time of eating, or being exposed to peanuts.
As man any as 1.5 million people suffer from a peanut allergy according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Although the cause of peanut allergy is unknown, approximately 11 people per day are diagnosed with the problem, in England alone. Almost 100 deaths occur every year from a peanut allergy reaction, which is the most common cause of food-related deaths.
Many believe that anaphylaxis can be generated by touching peanuts, smelling the odor of peanuts and simple proximity to peanut products. Some of these ideas resulted in controversial bans on all peanut products from entire facilities such as schools and medical facilities.
Harvard pediatrician Dr. Michael C. Young notes in his book The Peanut Allergy Answer Book that while such secondary contact can pose a risk to an allergic individual, the occurrence of a reaction is rare and limited to minor symptoms.