School bus evacuated over peanut

If ever we needed confirmation that we have entered a strange, unpleasant era of hyper-irrationality, it comes in the form of peanut allergies. That at least is the inescapable conclusion from reading “This allergy is just nuts,” by Nicholas A. Christakis, professor of medical sociology, Harvard Medical School, in the latest issue of the British Medical Journal.

The article was written in response to the increasingly nutty behavior by schools and parents over the threat from peanuts, which included the evacuation of a school bus full of 10-year olds after a single peanut was spotted on the floor, and the decision by the municipal school where Dr. Christakis’ children attend to mandate collecting wrapped candy gifts, some of which contained sealed tins of nuts, from the loading dock rather than the classroom to prevent endangering the children.

Add to this the general banning of nuts and foods associated with nuts in schools and we have, according to Dr. Christakis, a case of “epidemic hysteria.” The numbers, of course, tell a different story,  he says:

“About 3.3 million Americans are allergic to nuts, and even more – 6.9 million – are allergic to seafood. However, all told, serious allergic reactions to foods cause just 2,000 hospitalisations a year (out of more than 30 million hospitalisations nationwide). And only 150 people (children and adults) die each year from all food allergies combined.”

That’s roughly in the ballpark of the number of people who die from lightning strikes (about 100) each year. Maybe we should build a really big umbrella or stay indoors for the entire spring and summer…

4 Responses to School bus evacuated over peanut

  1. well what if they had peanut allergies?

    • You suspect that by some statistical fluke there were multiple children with peanut allergies on the bus who, upon spotting a peanut *on the floor,* would become so uncontrollably driven to eat that peanut that the awareness of their allergies and the idea of eating something off the floor would be powerless to deflect their desire, thereby justifying the mass evacuation of the bus? Seems extreme to me.

  2. Laura says:

    mass hysteria much?

  3. Phil says:

    Amazing. Guess next to the gun-free zone sign they can now have a sign with a peanut in a red circle with a line through it (international symbols being used since no one in the schools can read English these days).

    The added irony is that while few children are allergic to peanuts, many are allergic to cats, dogs, rats, and other critters that teachers regularly allow in their classrooms. Apparently its okay to risk those children’s health as long as the peanut kids are kept in bubble wrap.

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