Newswise — A recent case study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice highlights the challenges faced by families seeking venom immunotherapy for fire ant allergies. The study focuses on a 4-year-old boy from New Orleans, Louisiana, who experienced a severe allergic reaction after being stung by ants. Dr. John Carlson, pediatric allergy and immunology specialist at Ochsner Health, was the senior author on the case study.
The study describes how fire ants, specifically the black and red imported species, have become widespread in the southeastern United States. In New Orleans alone, 58% of residents reported being stung by fire ants in the past year. Despite attempts to avoid field stings, patients with a history of anaphylaxis still face the risk of being stung.
While venom immunotherapy is proven to be safe and effective, accessing adequate treatment remains a challenge. The study suggests that broader coalitions involving community partners, patient advocacy groups, physicians, and lawmakers are crucial in addressing the overlapping hazards faced by families living in poverty.
“We desensitize patients with venom allergy in our specialized clinic at Ochsner. Unfortunately, transportation barriers, lack of childcare, and difficulty taking time off from work pose significant challenges for families in need of treatment,” said Dr. Carlson. “We must explore all resources available to assist families facing these types of challenges. Parents of children with such allergies must have access to these life-saving immunotherapy treatments, and it will take all of us working together to create sustainable change in our underserved communities.”
Investment in marginalized communities is particularly important to mitigate the effects of exposures on child health. The study highlights the need for dialogue with families, schools, clinics, and other stakeholders to determine the best options for enhancing access to care and achieving more equitable outcomes.
This case report serves as a call to action, raising awareness of the barriers faced by fire ant allergy patients and their families. By working together, healthcare professionals, community partners, and policymakers can create meaningful change and improve access to vital treatments.
About Ochsner Health
Ochsner Health is an integrated healthcare system with a mission to Serve, Heal, Lead, Educate and Innovate. Celebrating more than 80 years of service, it leads nationally in cancer care, cardiology, neurosciences, liver and kidney transplants and pediatrics, among other areas. Ochsner is consistently named both the top hospital and top children’s hospital in Louisiana by U.S. News & World Report. The not-for-profit organization is inspiring healthier lives and stronger communities through its Healthy State by 2030 initiative, a bold and collaborative plan to realize a healthier Louisiana. Its focus is on preventing diseases and providing patient-centered care that is accessible, affordable, convenient and effective. Ochsner Health pioneers new treatments, deploys emerging technologies and performs groundbreaking research, including 4,000 patients enrolled in 685 clinical studies in 2022. It has more than 37,000 employees and over 4,700 employed and affiliated physicians in over 90 medical specialties and subspecialties. It operates 46 hospitals and more than 370 health and urgent care centers across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Gulf South; and its cutting-edge Connected Health digital medicine program is caring for patients beyond its walls. In 2022, Ochsner Health treated more than 1.4 million people from every state and 62 countries. As Louisiana’s top healthcare educator of physicians, Ochsner Health and its partners educate thousands of healthcare professionals annually. To learn more, visit https://www.ochsner.org/.