Keep pets out of air­line cabins to pre­vent al­ler­gic re­ac­tions

Cape Breton Post - - LIFESTYLES - BY ANNE-MARIE TOBIN

com­mit­tee on health should take up the cause.

An al­ler­gic re­ac­tion can range from mild to lifethreat­en­ing, said Stan­brook, who rou­tinely sees pa­tients with al­ler­gies at the Asthma and Air­way Cen­tre at the Uni­ver­sity Health Net­work in Toronto.

When some­one has an ana­phy­lac­tic re­ac­tion, breath­ing can be af­fected and emer­gency as­sis­tance is needed, he said.

“ That’s bad enough when it hap­pens on ground level,” he said. “If it hap­pens in an air­plane, far re­moved from any emer­gency mea­sures and maybe hours away from land­ing, that could be very, very se­ri­ous in­deed, and pos­si­bly fa­tal.”

For this rea­son, he said air­lines have an “ex­tra duty of care” to en­sure their en­vi­ron­ments are al­ler­gen free.

Es­ti­mates sug­gest at least 10 per cent of peo­ple are al­ler­gic to pets, with cat al­ler­gies be­ing most com­mon, Stan­brook noted.

Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitz­patrick said the air­line has had three com­plaints and isn’t aware of any se­ri­ous al­ler­gic re­ac­tions.

Stan­brook con­tends that the safety of the pas­sen­gers should be para­mount. “And se­condly there is an op­tion that’s quite rea­son­able — pets can travel quite safely and com­fort­ably in the cargo holds of planes,” he said. The ed­i­to­rial noted that ser­vice an­i­mals, for in­stance those as­sist­ing blind pas­sen­gers, are in­fre­quently present on planes and are not an is­sue.

MedAire, an Ari­zona-based com­pany that re­sponds to air­line health emer­gen­cies around the globe, said it had 22 cases in­volv­ing an­i­mals in 2008 and 2009. Six­teen were in-flight is­sues re­lat­ing to pas­sen­gers or crew with al­ler­gies to cats or dogs, and six were queries from gate agents with con­cerns prior to de­par­ture, said spokes­woman Jill Drake.

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