Many people have heard about illnesses from ticks, like Lyme disease, but a doctor at the University of Virginia is studying how a certain species of tick can leave you with an allergy to meat.
Doctor Thomas Platts-Mills has been researching the Lone Star Tick for almost twenty years. He found that patients who reported their tick bites itching for more than two weeks were more likely to develop this allergy.
A bite from the Lone Star Tick can leave you with an allergy to all mammalian meat, including beef, pork, and even squirrel and rabbit.
Symptoms of the allergy include nausea, hives, swelling of the lips and tongue, and shortness of breath; but you don’t have to have all of these issues to be allergic.
Dr. Steven Pence, an allergist in Harrisonburg, has seen about twenty patients in this area with the allergy. He says this is not surprising because of the number of hunters, farmers, and hikers.
This allergy sometimes only occurs intermittently, which makes it harder to detect.
“It’s related to carbohydrates and not primarily protein. That seems to be why it responds different in terms of the time course. You can have someone who’s going to have a reaction, they’ve consumed red meat, and then they don’t have trouble with that until three, four, five, or ten hours or so later,” said Dr. Pence.
Although the allergy can be delayed, once a person begins to react, it can escalate quickly, even leading to death.
The Lone Star Tick is a deer tick, and the spike in the deer population may be why this allergy is increasing.
The allergy does often go away over time, sometimes after one year, sometimes after five. Those who do have the allergy can eat chicken, turkey, or any kind of fish and shellfish.
Article from cbsnews.com