The Curious Case(ing) of the Spanish Sausage

Photo courtesy of flickr user bucklava

Photo courtesy of flickr user bucklava

From the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology in Washington, DC:

Allergists must love mysteries–every patient with an allergic reaction is an opportunity to find out whodunnit. The nickel in the snap on the jeans? The shellfish at the hip new seafood place? The neighbor’s kitten?

While perusing the posters at the AAAAI meeting today, one in the food allergy section caught my eye. A young man in Madrid, Spain, presented with allergic rhinoconjunctivitis and asthma. He reported two incidents of facial angiodema immediately after eating a particular type of dry sausage, although he had no know prior history of allergy to meat.

The wiley allergists conducted tests on both the meat and the casing of the sausage. Then they exposed the patient’s lower lip to the outer skin of the sausage and awaited developments. According to the poster, the patient developed angiodema of the lips, tongue, and uvula within 5 minutes. Fortunately, his symptoms resolved in a few hours after he was treated with antihistimines and corticosteroids.

So whodunnit? Mold, which is often added to types of dry sausage (at least in Europe) to enhance the flavor, similar to the way mold is added to certain types of cheese.  Another victory for the allergists. Case (and casing) closed.

–Heidi Splete

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