Tick Bites and Red Meat Allergy
When one considers allergies nuts or dairy allergies first spring to mind & reactions to these are caused by proteins in these substances. However, allergies can now extend to eating red meat. Surprisingly red meat allergy can be caused by ticks which are more prevalent in the summer as many are enjoying the outdoors & countryside. This correlation was first noted in 2009 in Texas where the eating of red meat is very popular.
The allergy to red meat is due to a carbohydrate that is injected into the bloodstream by the bite which is also present in meat. The first bite primes the immune system & the next time a bite is received an allergic reaction can take place e.g. when eating a steak an outbreak of hives can occur or even an anaphylactic shock episode in the case of the latter also seek help from a medical professional. The allergic reaction can often increase with frequency & severity. Unlike other food allergies, this can happen to people who have never previously been allergenic & can be delayed 4-8 hours after eating red meat. Lone Star ticks carry a sugar called alpha-gal, which is also found in red meat, but not in people. Normally, alpha-gal in meat poses no problems for people. But when a Lone Star tick bites a person, it transfers alpha-gal into the bloodstream. It’s not yet known if red meat allergy is permanent. While some people show indications of recovery, others do not.
Simple ways to prevent tick bites include avoiding bushy and woodland areas with high grass & instead walking in the centre path of trails. Ramblers, fishermen & campers should take particular care as should anyone swimming in rivers. Always shower upon returning home or to your holiday accommodation & ideally carry out a full-body inspection. If any ticks are found remove them as soon as possible with a pair of tweezers by gently gripping as close as you can to the skin & pull off with a sharp twist. Be aware that these insects can also cause a bacteriological infection known as Lymes Disease.
Enjoy the sunshine & outdoor but keep safe this summer and keeps these facts in mind!