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A New Red Meat Allergy Caused by Ticks

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No thanks to the lone star tick, a new and rare allergy is on the rise. The bite from this tick can cause certain people to develop an allergy to red meat as well as a reaction to dairy products. It was recently discovered by a researcher at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that over 5K cases have been reported.

A New Condition

This red meat allergy is extremely rare. Normally, red meat is not something that people can become allergic to. As a result, this new allergy is a condition which is only now coming into the spotlight of understanding for researchers and physicians alike.

This new condition has only begun to be understood in the last decade. Apparently, it is so rare that the allergy would normally be confused with other types of allergies. Now that it is understood that this is caused by the lone star tick, a new understanding is taking place.

Possibly Permanent

As it turns out, there are cases in which this acquired red meat allergy could become permanent. However, for the most part, it is believed that the allergy will dissipate over a period of two to three years.

The only problem would be that if you got an infected tick bite again, it would make the allergy worse and cause it to last longer and possibly become permanent in that case. Either way, the problem is real and it is a medical condition which needs to be addressed.

How it is Caused

The allergy is caused when the blood of the human body is introduced to the alpha-galactose carbohydrate which is found in all non-primate mammals but not in humans. That means it is found in cows, deer, bison, pigs, sheep, and other similar animals.

The theory is that the lone star tick carries this carbohydrate and, when it bites a person, it introduces the alpha-galactose carbohydrate into the human blood. Then the blood forms antibodies against it and, when red meat and dairy are consumed, an allergic reaction is the result.

The Symptoms

For most people, the symptoms of a red meat allergy will include a skin rash with itching and redness, abdomen cramps, diarrhea, gas, bloating, and even vomiting. Depending on the severity of the allergy, the symptoms will vary in type and intensity.

The symptoms can be treated with antihistamines and steroids, but the only way to truly abate the problem one would have to stay completely away from red meat. It is also important to avoid the meat because of the allergy and the possibility it could go away in time.

Keeping the Ticks Off

In order to prevent this problem from happening to you, you should always avoid tall grassy areas. This species of tick is found all over the Eastern United States but primarily in the South. Wear high-grade, approved repellents.

Always perform tick checks when coming inside. Take showers and dry clothes on high heat for at least ten minutes to kill ticks. Also have your dogs and cats treated for ticks too.