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New anaphylaxis alert scheme for Victorian hospitals

Victorian hospitals will now be charged with reporting cases of potentially fatal anaphylaxis to the state’s health department.

The new scheme, which came into effect on 1 November, was set up in response to the death of a 10-year-old boy in 2013 after he consumed a can of Taiwanese coconut drink that failed to declare the presence of milk as an ingredient on its label.

At the time, The Age reported that a lawyer for Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia told a court the delay of one month between the boy’s death and the removal of the drink from shop shelves pointed to systematic problems.

Victoria's deputy chief health officer Dr Angie Bone said if the suspected cause of anaphylaxis is the consumption of a packaged food the notification is required immediately by telephone.

Other cases of anaphylaxis presentations are required to be made within five days of the initial diagnosis through an electronic online form.

Bone said the new reporting system will allow a quick response to public health risks, such as tackling mislabelled food through product recalls.

"Acting in a timely manner will protect the Victorian public from preventable anaphylactic reactions, which have been on the rise since 1993," she said. "The primary purpose of the new anaphylaxis notification scheme is to allow the Department to take swift action where a notification reveals a broader public health risk.”

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