Child with seafood allergy dies after inhaling fish fumes, father says

Cameron Jean-Pierre’s grandmother was cooking cod at home when child started to wheeze, family says

Lindsey Bever
Friday 04 January 2019 11:31
Comments
Nearly six million children in the United States are estimated to have food allergies, including finned fish such as salmon, tuna and halibut, according to Food Allergy Research & Education
Nearly six million children in the United States are estimated to have food allergies, including finned fish such as salmon, tuna and halibut, according to Food Allergy Research & Education

An 11-year-old with a seafood allergy has died after inhaling fumes from fish cooking at his grandmother's home, according to his father.

Cameron Jean-Pierre had arrived at his grandmother's house in New York for a visit while she was cooking cod on 1 January

When Cameron started to wheeze, his father Steven Jean-Pierre gave him his nebuliser machine which he carried with him at all times.

But the device did not seem to work and Cameron was not able to breathe in the air, Mr Jean-Pierre said.

“That's when I called 911,” he told the Washington Post. Mr Jean-Pierre said his son was gasping, and said: “I love you, Daddy. I love you. I feel like I'm dying.”

Cameron was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

A spokeswoman with the Office of Chief Medical Examiner in New York City said the cause of death has not yet been determined, but Mr Jean-Pierre said his son died after inhaling the fish fumes.

Cameron, who lived in Piscataway, New Jersey, was described by his father as “ambitious,” “athletic” and a good student.

“He loved life,” Mr Jean-Pierre said about his young son. “For the 11 years he was in this world, he touched a lot of people.”

Piscataway superintendent of schools Teresa Rafferty said in a statement that the school community “is deeply saddened by the loss of Cameron and we express our heartfelt sympathies to his family and friends”.

“He was a good student and a positive and happy presence in the classroom,” she added.

NBC New York reported that the police do not suspect any criminality in Cameron's death.

Nearly six million children in the US are estimated to have food allergies, including finned fish such as salmon, tuna and halibut, according to Food Allergy Research & Education.

And Adela Taylor, who chairs the allergy and asthma centre at Mayo Clinic Health System in Wisconsin, said it is also possible “to have an allergic reaction to steam or fumes produced by cooking seafood”.

“The fish protein that is responsible for the allergic reactions is very stable when cooked,” she said in an email to the Washington Post.

“Published research articles indicate fish protein can be detected in steam and fumes during cooking or processing.

"It is possible that a person who is exposed to cooking steam or fumes, especially in an enclosed space, could have an allergic reaction.”

She added: “There are case reports of severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, from inhalation of fumes from cooking fish, but it is a very rare presentation.”

Anna Nowak-Wegrzyn, a professor of pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, also emphasised that an allergic reaction would not be caused simply by smelling an allergen but by inhaling the particles that are released into the air by cooking, steaming or roasting.

Prof Nowak-Wegrzyn, who specialises in allergy and immunology, said she has had patients who are severely allergic to milk report symptoms such as coughing and wheezing when walking into a coffee shop.

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

Still, Ms Nowak-Wegrzyn said that it is “incredibly rare”.

“You'd have to be very, very, very allergic,” she said.

The medical examiner's office is still investigating Cameron's death to determine whether he may have indeed died from fish fumes.

Washington Post

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in