Do you have a food allergy? Ga businesses can now have life-saving drug

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August 7, 2013 - Statesboro, Ga: Peanuts are shown on the farm of Jimmy and Connie Hayes, Healthy Hollow Farms, Wednesday afternoon in Statesboro, Ga., August 7, 2013. The Hayes property borders with the Ogeechee river. It's been over two years since the worst fish kill in Georgia history on the Ogeechee river by chemical dumping of the King America Finishing Plant, just up the river from the Hayes property. The Hayes, other farmers and townspeople along the Ogeechee River in south Georgia are growing increasingly frustrated and angry. The Hayes say chemicals still in the river have killed thousands of their trees, which they were forced to chop down and sell last fall. JASON GETZ / JGETZ@AJC.COM

Restaurants, churches, shopping malls and other businesses are now legally allowed to stock and administer auto-injectable epinephrine.

Public and private schools have already been allowed to keep supplies of the drug to treat severe allergic reactions. But a growing number of individuals with food allergies prompted lawmakers in 2015 to let private businesses stock epinephrine too.

“For an individual experiencing anaphylaxis, a potentially fatal allergic reaction, it is crucial they receive treatment immediately,” said Patrick O’Neal, M.D., director of Health Protection, Georgia Department of Public Health. “Without an injection of epinephrine, a patient might stop breathing or their heart could stop beating before EMS arrives or before the patient reaches a hospital emergency department.”

Nationally, the prevalence of food allergies among kids rose to 5.1 percent in 2011, up from 3.4 percent a decade or so earlier.

Businesses that want to stock and administer auto-injectable epinephrine must register with the Georgia Department of Public Health.

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