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Information updates

ASCIA 2017 Conference Report

September 19, 2017:  

The 28th ASCIA Annual Conference was held in Auckland, New Zealand at the Viaduct Events Centre from Wednesday 13th to Friday 15th September 2017. This conference was a great success, with more than 550 registrations, an outstanding program, an interactive conference app and a spectacular venue located on the stunning Waitematā Harbour in Auckland.   The positive feedback received from delegates has indicated that it was a highlight of the year for ASCIA members and other health professionals with an interest in allergy and clinical immunology.  

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) letter regarding EpiPen® adrenaline (epinephrine) autoinjectors

September 9, 2017

ASCIA has been alerted to a letter released by the FDA in the USA, regarding an investigation into the Mylan recall of EpiPen® devices earlier this year. To date, ASCIA has not received any correspondence regarding EpiPen®s failing to be discharged in an emergency situation in Australia or New Zealand. We are also not aware of any problem batches of EpiPen®s at present. We are awaiting further information from Mylan to guide further action.  In the meantime, if you have any questions you should contact Mylan Customer Service by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or phoning 1800 274 276.

The FDA letter is available at www.marketwatch.com/story/fda-warns-of-serious-manufacturing-violations-in-letter-to-epipen-manufacturing-facility-2017-09-07-141034838

ASCIA website update - Locate a Specialist

September 5, 2017

The ASCIA website listings for Allergy and Clinical Immunology Services in Australia and New Zealand have been significantly updated, to provide additional information in a more mobile/tablet responsive format.  The updated lists of Full (Ordinary) ASCIA members working in private and/or public clinical practice are available at www.allergy.org.au/patients/locate-a-specialist  

A referral from a GP is required for consultations, as the listed ASCIA members are all medical specialists. 

New ASCIA Allergic Rhinitis Clinical Update released in National Asthma Week 2017

September 4, 2017

To coincide with National Asthma Week (1-7 September 2017) and the start of Spring, the new ASCIA Allergic Rhinitis Clinical Update for health professionals has been released.  This document complements ASCIA allergic rhinitis e-training courses for health professionals and is available open access and free of charge on the ASCIA website:

www.allergy.org.au/health-professionals/papers/allergic-rhinitis-clinical-update

This document includes important information asthma, thunderstorm asthma and a link to the recently updated ASCIA Treatment Plan for Allergic Rhinitis:

www.allergy.org.au/health-professionals/ascia-plans-action-and-treatment

ASCIA allergic rhinitis e-training courses for health professionals are available free of charge on the ASCIA website:

www.allergy.org.au/health-professionals/health-professionals-e-training  

Allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and asthma are often referred to as “United airway disease”.  This is due to them being upper and lower respiratory tract manifestations of the same inflammatory process. For example, inhalation of aeroallergens through the nose may contribute to inflammation in lung.   Allergic rhinitis is a risk factor for subsequent asthma development and effective treatment of allergic rhinitis improves asthma management.

ASCIA Allergic Rhinitis treatment plan now includes thunderstorm asthma information

August 29, 2017

The ASCIA Treatment Plan for Allergic Rhinitis has been significantly updated. 

The main changes (versus the 2015 version) are the inclusion of:

  • Information about thunderstorm asthma
  • A note about the importance of using INCS sprays correctly
  • The TGA change in recommended decongestant use from “up to 5 days” to “up to 3 days”.
  • Weblinks for additional information

This updated plan is available open access and free of charge from the ASCIA website:

www.allergy.org.au/patients/allergic-rhinitis-hay-fever-and-sinusitis/allergic-rhinitis-treatment-plan

The updated plan is part of a significant increase in ASCIA website information on thunderstorm asthma since the epidemic during late November 2016 in Victoria.

Food allergen challenges - benefits, risks and precautions

August 4, 2017

Food allergy occurs in around 1 in 20 children and in about 2 in 100 adults. The severity of allergic reactions can be unpredictable, ranging from mild through to severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis).  While extremely uncommon, deaths due to food allergy have occurred in Australia and New Zealand.  Management of food allergy requires accurate diagnosis to allow careful allergen avoidance, together with an ASCIA Action Plan for treatment of allergic reactions.  Skin prick tests and blood tests for allergen specific IgE are commonly used to help in the diagnosis of food allergy. However these tests do not always provide a definite answer about whether or not someone is allergic to a food.  The “gold standard” test to diagnose food allergy is a food allergen challenge, sometimes called an oral food challenge. 

Food allergen challenges conducted under the guidance of allergy specialists are an essential part of clinical practice, with more than 8,000 challenges performed in Australia last year. In patients at risk of anaphylaxis, food allergen challenges are performed in a controlled environment under the supervision of medical and nursing staff experienced in treating anaphylaxis.

Until now there had never been a death from a medically supervised food challenge reported anywhere in the world. Tragically, we have seen a recent report of the death of a child in the US after a food allergen challenge.  This tragic event may understandably raise concerns and questions about how and why food allergen challenges are performed.  While we do not know the details surrounding this tragedy, it is appropriate to provide the community with information about food allergen challenges in Australia and New Zealand.

While acknowledging this terrible tragedy, food allergen challenges remain a generally safe and essential part of allergy practice in carefully selected patients after consultation with an allergy specialist.  If you are considering a food allergen challenge for you or your child and have any concerns, you should discuss these with your allergy specialist who can provide you with personalised information based on your individual circumstances. 

For information about food allergen challenges, including the benefits, risks and precautions, go to www.allergy.org.au/patients/food-allergy/food-allergy-challenges-faqs 

Updated translations of ASCIA anaphylaxis information

August 4, 2017

To support patients with severe allergies and their carers, and provide resources for health professionals, updated translations of ASCIA anaphylaxis information have been developed. These translations (into 16 languages) were funded by an educational grant from the Sydney Children's Hospitals Network (SCHN).

The following translations are now available on the ASCIA website www.allergy.org.au/health-professionals/anaphylaxis-resources#ta5

Anaphylaxis is a potentially life threatening, severe allergic reaction and should always be treated as a medical emergency. Anaphylaxis occurs after exposure to an allergen (usually to foods, insects or medicines), to which a person is allergic.

Adrenaline (epinephrine) is the first line treatment for anaphylaxis.  Adrenaline works rapidly to reverse the effects of anaphylaxis and is the first line treatment for anaphylaxis. Adrenaline autoinjectors contain a single, fixed dose of adrenaline, and have been designed to be given by non-medical people, such as a friend, teacher, childcare worker, parent, passer-by or by the patient themselves (if they are not too unwell to do this).

New and updated ASCIA information on subcutaneous immunoglobulin (SCIg) therapy and primary immunodeficiency (PID)

August 3, 2017: 

New and updated information on SCIg therapy and PID has been developed by ASCIA in 2017, as part of a comprehensive project. 

The aim of the following information is to assist patients with PID and their carers, and support health professionals who care for patients with PID:

Immunoglobulins (commonly known as antibodies) are used to treat adults and children with primary immune deficiencies (and other medical conditions), who are unable to make enough of their own antibodies, or who have antibodies that don’t work properly.  Replacing these antibodies helps to protect against infection and can prevent long term damage from ongoing infections, such as chronic lung disease.

Updated ASCIA information on cow’s milk (dairy) allergy

August 2, 2017

As part of a comprehensive review of educational information on its website, ASCIA information on cow’s milk (dairy) allergy has recently been updated.

The updates include changes that make it easier to read and information about the use of rice based extensively hydrolysed formula (rEHF) as an alternative milk for infants (up to 1 year of age).

Cow's milk (dairy is a common cause of food allergy in infants. In Australia and New Zealand around 2 per cent (1 in 50) infants are allergic to cow's milk and other dairy products. Although most children outgrow cow's milk allergy by the age of 3-5 years, in some people cow's milk allergy may not resolve. 

Avoidance and reintroduction of cow's milk and other dairy products should only be undertaken with advice from a medical specialist (and in many cases, a dietitian), particularly in cases with severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis).  If long-term exclusion is required, patients require an alternative source of calcium and protein to ensure adequate nutrition and growth. Dietary exclusion during breastfeeding is rarely required but if recommended, maternal nutritional intake should also be supervised. Assessment and review by a dietitian is recommended for infants and breastfeeding mothers who may need to exclude cow’s milk and other dairy products.

Travel information for people at risk of anaphylaxis

July 20, 2017:  

The recent report of a child having an allergic reaction on a flight who required treatment with adrenaline has highlighted the need for planning ahead when travelling with allergies.

The ASCIA travel plan and checklist have been developed to assist passengers at risk of severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) who need to carry adrenaline (epinephrine) autoinjectors (e.g. EpiPen®) on airline flights.  The ASCIA travel plan should be used in conjunction with an ASCIA Action Plan for Anaphylaxis (personal) and both plans need to be completed by a medical or nurse practitioner.

ASCIA travel plans, action plans, checklists and other resources are available at www.allergy.org.au/anaphylaxis

Other travel information for people at risk of anaphylaxis is available from Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia at www.allergyfacts.org.au/allergy-management/risk/travelling-with-allergies 

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