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Virginia EpiPen Law Could Go Nationwide - abc27 WHTM

Virginia EpiPen Law Could Go Nationwide

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Forest, VA - Food allergies are getting a spotlight at the federal level. The House of Representatives passed a bill to get more EpiPens in our schools - the first line of defense against an allergic reaction.

Virginia's a step ahead of the feds with this one. Following the death of a first-grader in Chesterfield County, the commonwealth passed legislation last year to get EpiPens in Virginia schools. Today, we looked into why what's good for Virginia schools is probably good for schools across the country.

The school cafeteria should be a time for fun. But meal time can be dangerous if you suffer from food allergies. They have the potential to close up your airwaves.

"It happens so fast it's horrifying to see it progress. And especially if you know what you ought to have to stop it, but you don't have it available," said Dr. Thomas Eppes, with Central Virginia Family Physicians.

So what can fight a food allergy?  Eppes shows us an EpiPen and explains the power behind the little device. He calls it "easy medicine."

"It blunts the allergic response very, very quickly," said Dr. Eppes.

Just slap it into your hip and hit the little button. You don't even have to worry about hitting a vein, "because all these things are now on auto-injectors," said Dr. Eppes. "And what you have to do is put it on the skin, load and shoot."

Congressman Phil Roe from Tennessee wants EpiPens in more schools. His bill creates a grant program for EpiPen and protection from lawsuits to those who use them. A medical doctor, he says an allergic reaction can kill within minutes. In fact, 1 in 13 kids under the age of 18 has at least one food allergy. Virginia Bill 656, which is now law, forced schools to have an epinephrine policy in 2012, as well as how to spot it, and who can treat it. Maybe the rest of the country is catching on.

The federal bill is receiving bipartisan support in D.C. A handful of leading organizations on food allergies have given it an okay as well.

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