Muskoka Mom Warns Others With Latex Allergies About Poinsettias After Serious Anaphylactic Reaction

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Photo by Jessica Fadel on Unsplash

A Muskoka mom is warning others with latex allergies to beware of the dangers associated with a classic Christmas gift after she experienced a serious anaphylactic reaction.

The mother of six from Muskoka, Michelle Blacklock, suffered a reaction after receiving poinsettia plants from her grandmother. Blacklock wrote a post for Allergic Living, detailing how her Christmas celebrations became memorable for all the wrong reasons. She knew she was allergic to latex, but she had never had a severe reaction before.

“I nearly left my children and husband without a mother and wife right before Christmas,” Blacklock wrote in the post.

On the way back from family celebrations, Blacklock sat with one of the gifted poinsettias at her feet. The family members each got a drink while stopping for gas, and before long Blacklock went from feeling fine to dealing with itchiness, hives and trouble breathing. 

The reaction was so severe that her husband brought her to Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre, where she was admitted to the hospital, given epinephrine, and hooked up to an IV with Benadryl and steroids. In just a few minutes, the symptoms subsided and the doctor was able to quickly determine the cause – the poinsettia at her feet. 

Poinsettias are part of the same plant family and share some common allergen proteins with rubber latex, so when Blacklock got poinsettia milk on her hands and transferred it to her drink, it caused a severe allergic reaction that she had never experienced before.

“I was up all that first night after this anaphylactic reaction, thinking about how close I’d come to losing my life,” Blacklock wrote in the post. “My message to any of you reading with a latex allergy is to be vigilant and aware. And stay away from poinsettia plants!”

To read Michelle’s full post, click here. If someone you know has an allergic reaction this holiday season, here are five emergency steps from Food Allergy Canada:

  1. Give epinephrine (EpiPen) at the first signs of an allergic reaction.
  2. Call 9-1-1 or your local emergency medical services and tell them that someone is having an anaphylactic reaction.
  3. Give a second dose of epinephrine as early as five minutes after the first dose if there is no improvement in symptoms.
  4. Go to the nearest hospital right away (ideally by ambulance), even if symptoms are mild or have stopped. The reaction could get worse or come back.
  5. Call emergency contact persons (e.g., parent, guardian, spouse).

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