Pepperoni pizza slice being lifted from whole pizza
Leah Berenson
Leah Berenson
June 15, 2024 ·  3 min read

11-Year-Old Girl Dies After Eating Pizza as Heartbroken Family Slams School

Allergies are unpleasant at the very least. However, they can become fatal as one family learned when their little girl collapsed at school as a result of her dairy allergy. 

Suffering from a Dairy Allergy

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Emerson Kate Cole was an 11-year-old girl attending. Lorenzo de Zavala Middle School in La Joya, Texas, when she was taken ill after having an allergic reaction in Jan. Sadly, her death could have been prevented, and her family is suing the school. According to reports, the girl went to the school nurse to treat her dairy allergy after she’d eaten pizza for lunch. The nurse wasn’t in her office at the time, so the school contacted her mom and requested permission to give her Benadryl. Although her mom agreed, Emerson purportedly threw up the medication

Read More: Family is sharing their story of tragic loss to raise awareness about allergies

Preventable Death

Fresh Homemade Italian Pizza Margherita with buffalo mozzarella and basil
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Emerson’s grandmother went to the school to pick up the little girl. Sadly, she collapsed, and her grandmother performed CPR until medical professionals arrived on the scene. However, they were unable to save her. The girl’s heartbroken family believes her death could have been prevented if the school had followed her medical plan. The plan contained instructions on administering Epinephrine and calling 911. 

Unserstanding Allergies

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Allergic reactions can range in severity but are nothing to take a risk on as they can become fatal. These reactions are caused by the body’s response to allergens or foreign proteins. The immune system then goes into overdrive, fighting off the allergen. The body responds to the first allergic reaction by creating “immunoglobulin E (IgE).” According to the Cleveland Clinic, These antibodies “bind to mast cells,” including those on the skin and in the respiratory system and GI tract. 

Going into Anaphylactic Shock

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The antibodies remove allergens from the body by taking them to a receptor that produces histamine, and histamine is what causes the allergic reaction. Each time after the initial allergic reaction, the body becomes more sensitive to the allergens and each reaction is more severe than the last. In this case, Emerson suffered from a dairy allergy meaning products like milk, cheese, and yogurt caused her body to go into shock. 

Read More: Football Players Put Peanuts in Allergic Boy’s Locker in Tragic Incident

Dairy Allergy Vs. Lactose Intolerant

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Contrary to popular belief, a dairy allergy isn’t the same as lactose intolerance. Most people have heard of “lactose intolerance” however, it’s not the same as a dairy allergy because it doesn’t involve the immune system. Instead, it’s “an inability to digest lactose.”

Sadly, Emerson’s dairy allergy became fatal, reminding parents everywhere to confirm with schools that everyone knows the plan in case of a medical emergency. Interestingly, anything could be considered an allergen for the right (or wrong) body. Here are a few examples of bizarre or unexpected allergies reported in medical history. 

Other Unexpected Allergies

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Water causes an allergic reaction called, Aquagenic urticaria. The condition is a rare condition that causes itchy and painful hives.

An allergic reaction to coins indicates an allergy to nickel sulfate. It turns out this allergy applies to more than just change; sufferers are advised to avoid contact with shiny or metal objects, including jewelry: hairpins, and some door knobs. 

Oddly some people have reported cases of an allergy to Human touch, experiencing such sensitivity, sufferers can “write on their skin” creating a rash or hives. 

Exercise is always encouraged to help maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, some can experience “exercise-induced anaphylaxis.” Symptoms include lightheadedness and narrowing or collapsing airways.

Lastly, sunlight has been known to cause allergic reactions in people; however, this is also a rare allergy. 

Read More: If You See These Painful Red Bumps, You May Have Dyshidrotic Eczema


  1. Allergies.” Cleveland Clinic
  2. World’s most rare and uncommon allergies.” Benenden Co
  3. Schoolgirl, 11, with dairy allergy died after eating pizza that triggered a severe reaction but ‘staff failed to follow her medical health plan’Daily Mail. Sabrina Penty. June 6, 2024.
  4. What is the difference between lactose intolerance and dairy allergies?” Medical News Today Louisa Richards. March 3, 2023