Antibiotics Suspected in Girl's Allergic Reaction to Blueberry Pie

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A girl in Canada experienced an unusual allergic reaction to blueberry pie — she was not allergic to any of the pie's ingredients, but instead reacted to antibiotic residue in the food, a new study suggests. Shortly after eating blueberry pie, the girl experienced facial flushing, hives and abnormal breathing. She was taken to an emergency room, treated with drugs used for allergic reactions, and recovered.

Although the patient was allergic to milk, an analysis showed the pie did not contain milk. Tests for allergies to other ingredients, such as blueberries, eggs or nuts, all came back negative. Further analysis showed that the pie contained residue from an antibiotic. The doctors tested the girl for an allergy to streptomycin, an antibiotic used as a pesticide on fruit. And, indeed, she reacted to streptomycin in much the same way as she had responded to the blueberry pie. The researchers could not confirm that the pie contained streptomycin specifically, but the results suggest the girl's allergic reaction was caused by streptomycin-contaminated blueberries, the researchers said.

The new study is the first to link an allergic reaction to antibiotics in fruit, the researchers said. The findings serve as a reminder to doctors in cases of unexplained allergic reaction. "Don't forget to think about antibiotics," said study researcher Dr. Anne Des Roches, an allergist at CHU Sainte-Justine, a health center affiliated with the University of Montreal in Quebec. The study is published in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

— Rachael Rettner, LiveScience

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