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Red Meat Allergies and the Lone Star Tick

Updated on August 9, 2014

For many people in the Southwest and East sections of the USA, a severe allergy after eating red meat has been mysteriously occurring. Some of the reactions are severe, although no one has died yet. In the NYC area, over 200 such cases have been appearing in local hospitals and baffle nurses and doctors as to the root cause. The mysterious cause has also appeared in Australia, France, Germany, Sweden, Spain, Japan and Korea.

The symptoms happen suddenly after a period of time has elapsed after eating red meat - hamburgers, steak, etc. The key symptoms are body parts becoming swollen and a general intense feeling of a rash with severe itching, as if the person is on fire.

The culprit in many cases points to the Lone Star tick. Originally, native to Texas, it has spread throughout the eastern, southern, and southwestern parts of the US. Researchers discovered that the tick possesses a unique sugar that humans do not have. This same sugar is also in red meat, including pork, venison, rabbit, and a few dairy products. The sugar is alpha-gal.

A person bit by the tick triggers an immune response in the person's blood as a foreign substance, and then, develops antibodies that attack it. But, the first time a person is bit, there is little reaction until the next time a person eats the trigger-red meat. When that happens, the antibodies declare war and the allergic reaction occurs. It seems once the sugar is in your system, the allergic reaction to eating red meat will happen within eight hours or so. The sugar does not go away, at least, that is what is known now. Note, the extreme reactions-severe swelling of hands, feed, lips or constriction of throat or a feeling of being on fire, hives, may get worse each time you eat red meat. Also, ehrlichiosis is potentially fatal bacterial infection of the patient's white blood cells and is transmitted the Lone Star Tick

Doctors are baffled because most allergies are caused by proteins, yet this one is caused by sugar. For milder cases, antihistamines can ease the symptoms. For extreme reactions, epinephrine, doxycycline is used.

Patients may have an allergy reaction anytime red meat is eaten. Researchers do not think this condition is permanent and tend to think as time goes on, the sugar injected by the tick dissipates. But, if the same tick bites them again, it starts all over.

Ticks are small, yet dangerous unless doctors properly diagnose the symptoms.

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