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The final report into last year's unprecedented thunderstorm asthma emergency in Victoria that is believed to have contributed to the deaths of nine people and sent many more to hospital, has been handed down.
While the report found no evidence that the extent or duration of this event could have been predicted, it does include 16 recommendations to ensure both the emergency management and health sectors are better prepared for future events.
The government has accepted all 16 recommendations in the report which include:
More research to improve our understanding and treatment of thunderstorm asthma
Research to inform forecasting, modelling and response protocols
Emergency management training for hospitals and health workers
Education and engagement campaigns to assist communities to prepare for and respond to epidemic thunderstorm asthma
Increased monitoring and interpretation of pollen data
Improved real-time monitoring of data sources, including emergency department demand.
As children all around Australia start a new school year it is time to think of updating ASCIA action plans, making sure adrenaline (epinephrine) autoinjector devices are in date and informing the school and the teacher of a child's known allergies.
Our friends at Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia and Western Sydney University have co-produced a new video to help parents of children with food allergies confidently make the transition from preschool and childcare to primary school. As the video points out, communication is the key to a smooth start to the school year.
The AIFA Board is pleased to announce two $10,000 grants, one supporting research into insect allergy treatment and the second that will improve development of a drug for allergy. Over the past 3 years AIFA has provided a total of $100,000 in research grants.
Jack Jumper Ant Allergy
Allergies to venoms from stinging insects are one of the most common causes of severe allergic reactions in Australia, and cause more deaths than shark attacks, yet they are rarely reported. Symptoms include an all-over rash, swelling of tongue or throat, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting or a drop in blood pressure.
A $10,000 grant has been awarded to a research project that will assess whether treatment for allergic reactions to Jack Jumper Ant stings is effective. The Chief Investigator is Dr Pravin Hissaria, with Professor Bob Heddle and Dr Adriana (Thanh-Thai) Le on the project team based at SA Pathology in Adelaide. The title of the project is "Assessment of the Basophil Activation Test as a tool for monitoring therapeutic responses to Jack Jumper Ant Venom Immunotherapy".
Eczema or atopic dermatitis occurs in 1 in 5 children under two. In people with eczema the skin barrier does not work as well so moisture is easily lost, causing the skin to dry out and be more susceptible to allergens and irritants.
Eczema causes redness and a desire to itch, which may result in broken and bleeding skin. It is common for people with eczema to have other allergies, suggesting that there is an inherited or genetic factor involved.
Thank you to Matthew Limbrey for raising awareness of eczema and funds for AIFA research by riding in the inaugural Bowral Classic bike ride through the Southern Highlands of New South Wales on 23rd October.
"Team Itchy & Scratchy Racing took on the best the Southern Highlands can offer, Matthew writes. "We raised money to help rid the scourge of eczema."
This year AIFA grants have drawn interest and collaborations from researchers all over Australia. Expressions of Interest submitted covered topics as varied as immunotherapy for urticaria, insect allergy, drug allergy and how primary immunodeficiencies affect the immune system.
Our Grant Selection Panel has been working hard assessing the projects. They consider how the research will be done and the likelihood of achieving real clinical outcomes for patients. The panel strongly believe in encouraging collaborations across states and institutions. We are now down to a shortlist of 6 projects for the two grants available this year.
We are proud to announce that the AusPollen project has been awarded $626,442 in the latest round of NHMRC Partnership Project grants with a further $653,129 in partner organisation in kind and cash support. AusPollen, the Australian Pollen Allergen Partnership, will build, implement and evaluate the first standardised national pollen monitoring network.
Grass pollen is the main outdoor trigger for allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and allergic asthma. This project seeks to improve the management of people with these common conditions, by delivering pollen alerts and healthcare information via websites and apps.
The AIFA team is raising money for allergy research by walking 14km from the centre of Sydney to Bondi Beach during the annual City2Surf.
If you want to run you are welcome to set up a break away group!
The first step is to pay for registration to enter the walk at www.city2surf.com.au.
Then join the team by setting up a supporters page with Everyday Hero under Michelle Haskard's Walk for Allergy Research team page.
Share on social media or by email with your network to help spread the word.
There is a free cap for all participants.
Find out about Michelle's friend John and more at: