And they say seafood not nuts is the most common trigger for food-related deaths. But food-related deaths are not the biggest anaphylaxis problem, say immunologists
The Australian Bureau of Statistics recorded 324 deaths from anaphylaxis between 1997 and 2013 with men more likely to die than women.
Most deaths were attributed to an unspecified cause (205 people) followed by medication (52) and insect bites (41). A further 23 people died from food allergies during that time and 3 died from blood products.
The literature shows almost all medication deaths occurred in older adults with multiple conditions while young people under 30 made up the bulk of the deaths from food.
Insects, primarily bees, appeared to be particularly deadly for Australian men probably because of “greater outdoor activity”, say the researchers.
They note only a subset of deaths in the study were likely preventable.
Nonetheless, the authors warn that an ageing population with increasing rates of underlying food allergy and accumulating additional disease factors such as cardiovascular disease has implications for future fatality trends.
“Australia has one of the highest rates of documented food allergy and hospital anaphylaxis admissions in the developed world,” write the researchers in Clinical & Experimental Allergy. It is therefore unsurprising that anaphylaxis fatality rates are also higher, and may explain why the increases observed are yet to be described elsewhere.”