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Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2001 Sep;22(3):292-5.

An unusual case of anaphylaxis. Mold in pancake mix.

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Office of the Chief Medical Examiner Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Forensic Section Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, USA.


Anaphylactic reactions involve contact with an antigen that evokes an immune reaction that is harmful. This type of reaction is a rapidly developing immunologic reaction termed a type I hypersensitivity reaction. The antigen complexes with an IgE antibody that is bound to mast cells and basophils in a previously sensitized individual. Upon re-exposure, vasoactive and spasmogenic substances are released that act on vessels and smooth muscle. The reaction can be local or systemic and may be fatal. The authors report the death of a 19-year-old white male who had a history of "multiple allergies," including pets, molds, and penicillin. One morning, he and his friends made pancakes with a packaged mix that had been opened and in the cabinet for approximately 2 years. The friends stopped eating the pancakes because they said that they tasted like "rubbing alcohol." The decedent continued to eat the pancakes and suddenly became short of breath. He was taken to a nearby clinic, where he became unresponsive and died. At autopsy, laryngeal edema and hyperinflated lungs with mucous plugging were identified. Microscopically, edema and numerous degranulating mast cells were identified in the larynx. The smaller airways contained mucus, and findings of chronic asthma were noted. Serum tryptase was elevated at 14.0 ng/ml. The pancake mix was analyzed and found to contain a total mold count of 700/g of mix as follows: Penicillium, Fusarium, Mucor, and Aspergillus. Witness statements indicate that the decedent ate two pancakes; thus he consumed an approximate mold count of 21,000. The decedent had a history of allergies to molds and penicillin, and thus was allergic to the molds in the pancake mix. The authors present this unusual case of anaphylaxis and a review of the literature.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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