A NORTH-EAST consultant has warned that patients with nut allergies must avoid curries they have not prepared themselves unless they are certain they do not contain nuts.

Dr Desa Lilic, a consultant immunologist at the University Hospital of North Durham, in Durham City, gave her advice after the death of Angus Myers, 32, from Carrville, near Durham City.

Mr Myers, who had a known nut allergy, collapsed and died after he suffered a suspected allergic reaction when he ate a takeaway curry on Saturday night.

His wife, Marie, said her husband was told by staff at the takeaway restaurant that the meal was free of nuts.

But Dr Lilic warned that takeaway curries were often cooked in peanut or almond oil, which could trigger a severe allergic reaction in patients who have nut allergy.

She said: “The advice I give to people with nut allergies is not to eat curry. You have to be absolutely certain about the ingredients, and the only way is to make it yourself or make sure it does not contain nuts.”

Deaths from peanut allergy are very rare, with an estimated five a year in the UK, but Dr Lilic said the number of people developing severe allergies was gradually increasing.

She set up an allergy clinic in the region a year ago as a pilot scheme, and said the demand from patients was huge.

A series of reports in recent years have highlighted the need for more allergy clinics in the UK.

Dr Lilic, who runs the Durham allergy clinic with colleague Dr Lucy Hansen and nurse Joanne Smith, said: “The patient demand has been overwhelming. We have a problem in keeping on top of our waiting lists.”

She said there was “a gross lack of consultant immunologists”, with only 49 in England, and even fewer consultant allergists.

She said: “We see roughly 400 patients a year and they are mostly new cases.”

Dr Lilic said anyone with a suspected nut allergy or other severe allergy should see their GP, who would decide if further referral was needed. Patients who are diagnosed with a severe allergy are advised to carry two adrenaline-delivery devices, known as Epi pens, with them at all times.

In a severe attack, they can help keep the airway open and save lives.