PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Keeping pests away from fruits and vegetables can involve antibiotics and this could be dangerous for people.

A case report in the “Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology,” involves a 10-year-old girl who developed a severe and life-threatening reaction after eating blueberry pie.

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She had a history of asthma, seasonal allergies and allergies to milk and penicillin. None of the pie ingredients were on the list of her known offenders.

As it turns out, the problem was the antibiotic streptomycin. The blueberries had been treated with this to keep bacteria, fungi, and algae from growing on the fruit.

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“This could explain why so many patients insist they’re allergic to berries, but when we test them to berries, they’re negative, and they reconsume the berries, they seem to tolerate them,” Allergy & Clinical Immunology Associates Dr. James DeAngelo said. “True allergies to berries: blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, any of the berries is extremely rare.”

Doctors think traces of streptomycin on produce, meat and in the water supply could have sensitized her.

“One batch of blueberries may contain a high amount of streptomycin, whereas another may not,” Dr. DeAngelo said. “She already had what I call sensitivity to things in general, so she was more prone.”

Europe does not use antibiotics in agriculture, but the United States and Canada do. This is a rare allergic reaction, but something allergists and emergency personnel should know about.

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