Increasing Cases of Meat Allergy Triggered by Tick Bite

Watch out for those blood-sucking ticks, especially the Lone Star tick! One bit may trigger meat allergy.

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An increasing number of cases are showing up where people that previously had no meat allergy are now diagnosed with it after being bitten by the ‘Lone Star’ tick and some other types of ticks.

Victims of the tick bite have reportedly faced swollen mouths, hives on their body, and a constricted throat after consuming red meat. In many instances the symptoms may not occur immediately, but possible hours later.

Doctors are saying the ticks carry bioactive compounds in its saliva, one of which is a blood sugar called alpha-gal, found in non-primate mammals, but not in humans. Alpha-gal can make its ways into the human blood stream following a tick bite, and the human immune system will react by building antibodies to the foreign sugar.

Cases have been reported in Australia, France, Germany, Sweden, Spain, Japan, Korea and now, on Long Island, according to reporting from CBS News.

The Lone Star ticks are mainly found on white-tailed deer residing in southeastern and eastern United States. The CDC has provided a visual map showing the approximate distribution of the Lone Star tick.

Patients are treated with antihistamines or epinephrine shots in severe cases.

It’s not clear whether the allergy is permanent.

While not all tick bites result in a meat allergy, it’s important to also be aware of other illnesses that may result from a tick bite, including Lyme disease, the Heartland virus, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Powassan.

If you find a tick attached to your skin, it’s important to properly remove it immediately. The CDC offers information on how to effectively remove a tick.

Should you get bitten by a tick, watch out for incidences of fever, chills, aches and pains, or a rash. Seek immediate medical help should symptoms develop.  

[Source: CDC; CBS News.]