Red meat allergy linked to antibodies from tick bite
Red meat eaters in the central and southern regions of the United States where lone star ticks are found may be more inclined to suffer from meat allergy, finds a study.
According to results of an investigation presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, symptoms of sneezing, headache, wheezing and more can occur hours after eating meat in areas of the country where residents are more likely to experience a tick bite.
Beef, lamb and pork contain a sugar carbohydrate known as alpha-gal that can lead to a higher chance of meat sensitivity after just one tick bite.
According to Stanley Fineman, M.D., ACAAI president, tick bites cause levels of alpha-gal antibodies to rise.
“This can result in allergic symptoms which are usually delayed after meat ingestion and may present as mild hives but may also be a severe, potentially deadly reaction known as anaphylaxis,” Fineman said in a press release.
Studies also found higher rates of meat allergies in areas where lone start ticks are not found, leading researchers to believe there might be other factors driving allergies to meat.
“These findings suggest that other species of ticks, or possibly human factors, may play a role in allergic reactions to alpha-gal,” said Dr. Fineman.
Unlike most allergies, a reaction to eating meat can take 3 to 6 hours to appear.
Symptoms can be severe and require immediate medical treatment and include hives, rash, stuffy nose, headache, sneezing and asthma.
The most severe form of allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis can lead to death.
According to a report from ABC, published this year, 1000 cases of meat allergy have been linked to tick bites in Virginia.
If you think you might be having an allergic reaction to meat, seek medical attention. It’s also important to see an allergist for testing and a prescription for life-saving epinephrine if you test positive for alpha-gal antibodies. It's possible to accidentally ingest a piece of ham or other red meat mixed in with vegetables or other foods. Another option is to adopt a vegetarian diet. and avoid eating food -prepared by other people.
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