Scientists have discovered that ticks, which emerge during the hot months of summer, are causing allergic reactions to red meat in a number of people.
While most people worry about contracting Lyme’s disease after suffering a tick bite, bites from the “lone star” tick can cause other worrisome illnesses, The Washington Times reports. “We often think of ticks as carriers of infectious diseases, such as Lyme disease, but the research strongly suggests that bites from this particular species of tick can lead to this unusual allergy,” said Dr. Melody Carter, who conducted a study on ticks in 2017.
The lone star tick is found across the East, Southeast, and Midwest United States, and can cause what experts have dubbed the “Alpha-Gal allergy.” Scientists discovered the allergy after examining a number of patients who had entered into anaphylactic shock roughly six to eight hours after digesting red meat. Upon closer examination, the experts found that all the patients had been bitten by lone star ticks.
“It’s not the classic ‘my throat is closing when I eat peanut butter,’ reaction,” University of North Carolina Chapel Hill allergist Dr. Scott Commins said, according to USA Today. “These [patients] would get hives and talk about G.I. distress, or needing to go to the restroom, and itching and swelling. Some would have to go to the ER to get treated,” he added. (RELATED: Sony Apologizes For Depicting Food Allergies As Weakness In Kids Movie)
Roughly 5,000 people have been diagnosed with the Alpha-Gal allergy following their exposure to a lone star tick.
Dr. Thomas Platts-Mills discovered the tick-transmitted Alpha-Gal allergy in 2002.
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