The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is investigating the occurrence of allergic-type reactions in school students today that are associated with the consumption of kiwi fruit.
RIDOH received reports of approximately 34 students experiencing symptoms, including itching of the lips and mouth, hives and tongue swelling. Fresh kiwi fruit was consumed immediately prior to onset of these reactions. Some of the students were treated in the school setting, and a few at the emergency department, with antihistamines (such as Diphenhydramine or Benadrylฎ) and all improved. The cause of the reaction is unknown at this time. Reports have been confirmed from the following schools:
Blackstone Valley Prep 1, Cumberland Blackstone Valley Prep 2, Cumberland Blackstone Valley Prep 3, Cumberland Vartan Gregorian, Providence Southside Elementary Charter, Providence Globe Park School, Woonsocket Illuminar at ACH 1st, Providence Highlander, Providence Frank Spaziano Annex, Providence Times 2 Academy, Providence Nathaniel Greene, Pawtucket Anges Hennessey, East Providence Silver Springs, East Providence Orlo Avenue, East Providence
The fruit was cut and bagged at Roch's Fresh Foods in West Greenwich. Roch's has been very cooperative as RIDOH works with schools to ensure that all the fresh fruit from this distributor is discarded. In addition, the distribution of kiwis from Roch's Fresh Foods has been suspended. Because fruit had also been distributed to Massachusetts, RIDOH is coordinating with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
It is very unlikely that any delayed allergic reaction will occur from consuming these kiwis. All of the reported allergic reactions happened immediately after consuming the fruit. However, if any student does experience these symptoms, parents should contact their healthcare providers for advice and guidance.