Farm family fights peanut allergy

June 12, 2017

Traci Seaton Ferguson grew up in Terry County. She has been around farming her entire life. Then she married Anthony Ferguson, a farmer. The farming family life was passed down to another generation. Anthony and Traci mostly grew cotton and peanuts until a few years back when grapes entered their lives in a big way.

Their first child, a daughter, arrived and things could not be better. Landri was around seven weeks when a horrible skin rash began to develop. “At first, I thought it was a bad case of cradle cap, that just wouldn’t go away. First time mother. I just wasn’t sure and didn’t want to be one of those that over reacts to everything.”

Landri broke out from head to toe and eating became an issue. The Ferguson’s pediatrician suggested they see an Allergist. Dr. Susy Beck did some testing and at seven months old, Landri was diagnosed with a severe peanut allergy.

There are three different proteins in the peanut that cause allergies and Landri was affected by all of them. But primarily the airborne protein. And this was the biggest problem.

Landri’s dad was busy growing and harvesting peanuts. He would come home from harvesting covered in peanut dust and hold Landri and she was beginning to be head to toe hives.

Once the allergy was diagnosed, Anthony would completely disrobe in the garage and head straight to the shower before coming in contact with anyone in the family. This helped to a degree, but the problem was still there. Plus, the thought that from this point on, everything and everyone that came in contact with Landri could be a potential problem.

Because the farm is a family proposition, Traci’s dad and brother were great to tell Anthony, “You be our cotton guy. We will handle the peanuts.”

But, still, the problem was there. Traci and Anthony did not feel that completely isolating Landri was the answer they wanted. There just had to be something more that could be done.

Traci began to do more and more research. Working with Dr. Beck, they found Dr. Patricia Dinger, an Advanced Allergy and Asthma doctor in San Antonio. Dr. Dinger also had a child with a peanut allergy and this was what had spurred her on to do more research.

This is where the Ferguson family was introduced to Oral Immunotherapy or OIT.

In April of this year, the family traveled to San Antonio for Landri’s first dose. Bear in mind, up to this point, Landri has never ingested a single bite of peanuts. Her entire reaction is airborne based.

Dr. Dinger introduced Landri to a peanut protein powder which was mixed with a kool-aid type drink. She would drink this twice a day.

The doses were given 12 hours apart. Landri had to have no activity for an hour before and for two hours after each dose. This is because her body needed to be at rest and ready to handle this allergen being introduced to her system.

Landri then went up to 50 mg of peanut protein sprinkled over food. She continues to have occasional break outs, and have a cough and some eczema issues but they are able to manage all these issues with Benadryl and Zyrtec or CRV ointment on the eczema. None of these issues have been life threatening.

Traci is quick to point out, “Landri will always have this allergy, unless she grows out of it at some point. This program is just training her body on how to handle the allergens when she comes in contact with them.”

The plan is for Landri to be eating peanuts by mid-July. She will start by being introduced to one in the morning and one 12 hours later. Gradually, more peanuts will be introduced. She will then build up to what they call the “24 peanut challenge.”

“Landri will eat 24 peanuts and see how her body reacts. But by then, she should have built up quite a resistance.”

Landri will finally get to eat peanut M&M’s and Reese’s Cups!

Traci stated one of the biggest things for her family is to lose the fear for her daughter. “It is nice to think that, even though the allergy is still there, we no longer have to watch every little thing and ask every single mother what their child has been eating before we can socialize.”

All of this coming just in time for the nearly five-year-old to start public school in the fall.

Epi-pens will still be on hand for emergencies that could arise but, Traci, again, no longer fears using the pens or what could happen.

This program has really provided this family with some peace of mind that has been a long time coming.

Peanut farming can continue and life on the farm will once again, be all the Ferguson’s hoped it would be.

(There is a wealth of information on the internet about OIT therapy if you are interested, but always start with your Allergist and be sure to not try this therapy method on your own.)

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Category: Agriculture, Area News, Updates