Meat allergy caused by tick bite — 1500 known U.S cases

A novel cause of anaphylaxis is being caused by a tick bite leading to sensitization to the Galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose carbohydrate. In turn, this causes delayed but often severe allergic reactions to mammalian meats, including beef and other red meats. This allergy is in the news again, and a task-force on this emerging health challenge convened in Arkansas, one of the affected U.S. states, in September, 2015.

The alpha-gal allergy is caused by a bite from the Lone Star tick, which carries the alpha-gal carbohydrate, also found in red meat. Alpha-gal is not known to cause sensitization under normal circumstances when humans eat meat. However, when alpha-gal enters the bloodstream during a Lone Star tick bite, antibodies develop that cause delayed allergic reactions to red meat several hours after ingestion. Symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening.

At this point, most cases are occurring in the southern and central U.S. states.

More information, as well as links to news articles, is available here, at the Alpha-Gal Allergy Awareness web site.

 

 

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