This Tick Bite Makes You Allergic To Red Meat, Doctors Say

Faith Castro
June 27, 2017

But the reaction to red meat after a lone star tick bite is much different.

"The weird thing about [this reaction] is it can occur within three to 10 or 12 hours, so patients have no idea what prompted their allergic reactions", Dr. Ronald Saff, an allergist and assistant clinical professor of medicine at Florida State told the publication.

The tick's bite generates an allergy to a sugar molecule in red meat known as alpha-galactose, or "alpha-gal", and can spark a life-threatening reaction with just a single bite of red meat, Business Insider reported.

Yep, one bite from the lone star enough to reprogram your immune system to forever reject even the smallest nibble of perfectly crisped bacon. From that point forward, consuming any red meat will trigger an allergic reaction, which can include, hives, shortness of breath, stomach cramps and in some severe cases difficulty breathing and fainting. These symptoms often have a delayed onset, while others bit by lone star ticks exhibit milder reactions or no meat allergy at all.

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Although the lone star tick is most commonly found in the Southeast, more cases have popped up in the Midwest and along the East Coast. Duluth, Minnesota, Hanover, New Hampshire, and the eastern tip of Long Island, where at least 100 cases have been reported in [2016].

Lone star ticks are not now monitored by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, which notes only that the species is "very aggressive" and potentially poses a risk to most of the eastern United States. The tick's primary mammalian hosts typically carry the alpha-galactose carbohydrate, shielding them from the worst symptoms of a bite. "So not only are they more aggressive but there are more of them", Commins said.

So far researchers are unsure what element of the "Lone Star" tick's saliva causes the Alpha-Gal effect when victims eat red meat.

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