Ticked off beef: Tick bites may lead to meat allergy

Tick bites are bad enough on their own, but doctors now suspect bites from a certain species may lead to a red meat allergy.

A large number of cases involving people who suddenly developed an allergy to red meat have cropped up in the central and southern U.S. Researchers believe a tiny parasite is to blame: the lone star tick, according to ABC News.

The key, researchers believe, is in the ticks’ saliva. After being bitten by the tick, the level of the antibodies for alpha-gal (a sugar in beef, lamb and pork) rise, according to ABC.

What they do know for sure is that those who develop meat allergies suffer an allergic reaction three to six hours after ingesting the meat. The reaction could be as minor (but as annoying) as hives, to potentially fatal anaphylactic shock.

Earlier this year, Food Safety News spotlighted a study that linked the ticks with meat allergies. In their report, researchers stumbled upon the link after researching a cancer drug that caused allergic reactions in patients only in the South. When reports of meat allergy surfaced years later, the team tested people’s blood and found the same alpha-gal antibodies.

There is some hope for those who suffer from the allergy – it typically disappears in three to five years, so long as the person isn’t bitten by another lone star tick, according to Food Safety News.

Comments are closed.