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Shellfish allergy - can he touch live prawns + crabs?

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#1 lealou13

Posted 27 January 2011 - 01:51 PM

DS1 is 3 years old and has a confirmed prawn allergy (confirmed via skin prick test). As such advised to avoid all shellfish until further allergy tests can be done.
Recently he had a contact reaction as someone who ate prawns & crabs (+ tree nuts, also allergic to cashews that we are aware of) touched his neck whilst playing with him. The reaction brought on a mild anaphylactic response - rash, hives, tongue and bottom lip swelling and drooling.
He now has an epi-pen.

I dont know if this is a silly question .... but it never came up in discussion with the immunologist last time we saw him, so I need to get some feedback .. I just wanted to ask if anyone knows or has had any experience, with children allergic to shellfish, as to whether they can touch live shellfish like hermit crabs, prawns, starfish etc...
I am curious as to whether there would  / could be a reaction?

He will be exposed to and will be interacting with live sea creatures at preschool soon and I'm not sure if I should send him. I know I will be freaking out all day about him, so I probably will end up not sending him... at the same time I'm so determined to give him all the opportunties that non-allergic children have, that I dont want him to miss out if its uneccessary.

I just keep thinking about his egg allergy, and that I wont let him touch an egg.... so why would I let him touch a prawn? I have googled this and cant seem to locate much info.


#2 whydoibother

Posted 28 January 2011 - 01:19 PM

I would say yes he would react.  I knew a girl at uni like your ds who was ANA to fish.  She touched her steering wheel after her dad had been fishing and blew up like a balloon!

#3 melajoe

Posted 28 January 2011 - 01:27 PM

My sister is allergic to shellfish and can mostly touch crabs or prawns without having a reaction.  The problem for her seems to be if she has any broken skin - if she has a cut on her finger, for example, or if she gets "spiked" by any of the spikey bits on the shell then she does get itchy hands/eyes and swells up in the face.

I guess like anything though, it depends on how sensitive your son is.  Maybe it is safest for him not to participate.

#4 *LucyE*

Posted 28 January 2011 - 01:36 PM

Why don't you call your immunologist and inform the receptionist that you have a simple question to ask that you forgot at the last appointment.  See if they will ask the Dr for you and call you back with the answer.

#5 deejie

Posted 28 January 2011 - 01:47 PM

Theoretically I would say yes. Crustacean shells are made of chitin and calcium carbonate. The skin prick test is performed with the internal flesh (edible part). However you never know if there is a crack/defect in the exoskeleton whereby touching might actually touch a tiny bit of flesh. Your son has a confirmed severe contact allergy and I'm not sure it is worth the risk.

I am sure there are other sea creatures he could touch (starfish etc). Can you explain the situation to the pre-school staff, perhaps you could come along for the session and keep an eye on him?

#6 lealou13

Posted 28 January 2011 - 07:59 PM

thanks so much for all of your very helpful replies! I dont feel so crazy for asking the question now!!

I rang the show organiser and I think that she thought I was loopy asking her about the whole issue.
She did suggest that he wear gloves to touch the sea creatures.... that sounds ok in theory but there is still the risk of secondary contact from another child.
She did kindly offer to hold back on the prawns ... but there will still be lots of little hermit crabs.

I am seeing paed next week, so will get his opinion.

I know myself that I will be a wreck if I let him go & participate ... I think that he may have to miss out for my sanity alone!!

I am a wreck even when I reluctantly let him sit in a shopping trolley on the odd occasion,  as he has had an episode of head to toe hives a few months back from something on the trolley ...ooohh!!!
and now considering his ana status ... I try to sanitise every part of the trolley that he may possibly touch (not sure it really does much, but at least I feel like I'm doing something!) .. and those children's coin operated rides in the shopping centres.... AHHHH!!!! take a close look, typically filthy & covered in food residue!

thanks heaps!!

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