Girl, 7, ate peanut before dying of allergic reaction at school

CBS/WTVR

student allergy death
CBS/WTVR

(CBS) The first grade girl who died from a peanut allergy at her elementary school was reportedly given a peanut by her friend.

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Amarria Johnson, 7, died on Jan. 4 at Hopkins Elementary School in Chesterfield Country, Va, after emergency crews were unable to resuscitate her. ABC News reports that there will be no criminal negligence charges filed against the school, Johnson's mother, or the girl who shared the peanut.

"Although not a crime, Amarria's death is a tragedy and the Chesterfield County Police Department expresses its deepest sympathies to her family, classmates and school personnel as they deal with this difficult and painful event," police chief Col. Thierry Dupuis said in a statement, according to ABC.

Johnson's death sparked a national debate about whether schools should carry epinephrine injections, or EpiPens, on hand to prevent severe allergic reactions that result in anaphlyaxis. Anyone experiencing the life-threatening reaction needs to receive the injection immediately to reduce symptoms or they can die within an hour.

Johnson's school, without  commenting directly on her case, said it could only give a child medication that his or her family brought in specifically for the child, and could not give a student another child's medication in the event of an emergency.

"Normally, I would agree this is responsible," opined Dr. Karen Latimer, a family medicine physician and blogger, on the Huffington Post. "However, all bets are off when a little girl is dying."

Some state lawmakers might agree with that point. According to WTVR CBS 6 in Richmond, Va., several local representatives are now considering EpiPen legislation that would require all schools to have the injections on campus in case of an emergency.

"Get Epi-pens into school as quickly as possible," Del. John O'Bannon of Henrico County, told CBS 6. "I think parents who have seen their kid's reaction clearly understand how important this is."

The girl's tragic death has already spurred more parents to submit emergency action plans for their own children to schools in the district.

"It is our sincere hope this community awareness will continue," said Shawn Smith, spokesman for Chesterfield Schools.

Parents of children with food allergies should check with their doctor and school to create an emergency action plan. The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network provides a sample plan template parents can use for their children.

Food allergies affect an estimated 6 to 8 percent of children under age 5, and about 3 to 4 percent of adults, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network has more resources on food allergies.

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