Food-related anaphylaxis fatalities on the rise in Australia

Food related anaphyylaxis Fatalities

Deaths from anaphylaxis are relatively rare in Australia. Researchers have examined anaphylaxis fatalities and hospital admission rates between 1997 and 2013 to determine whether the rate of death from anaphylaxis in Australia has increased in line with increases in hospital anaphylaxis admission rates.

Data derived from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed there were 323 cases of fatal anaphylaxis reported between 1997 and 2013. Food was the second highest known cause attributed to the anaphylaxis, accounting for 23 of the cases. Medication was the highest, being attributed to 52 cases. The cause of the fatal anaphylactic reaction was not specified in over 220 cases, with the remaining attributed causes being classified as insect stings or tick bites, and serum.

Hospital admission rates for food-related anaphylaxis increased 10% per year, and similarly, food-related fatal anaphylaxis increased 9.7% per year across the period studied.

Total hospital admission rates for all causes of anaphylaxis increased by 8% each year, compared to a 6.2% increase in the rate of fatal anaphylaxis across the same period.

While this preliminary evidence (presented at the 2016 AAAAI Annual Meeting) indicates a rise in Australian fatal anaphylaxis rates comparable with the increases seen in hospital admission rates, the authors state that this data contrasts with recent UK and USA-based studies that report lower overall fatal anaphylaxis rates. Those international studies are said to show rising hospital anaphylaxis admission rates without a rise in fatalities.

Reference: Mullins et al. 2016. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2015.12.189