Some Tick Bites Can Cause a Life-Threatening Meat Allergy Alpha-Gal--the Meat Allergy

By Dr. Elena Frid

M any of you already know about the various infections that a tick bite can transmit, sometimes leading to life-altering diseases and symptoms. But did you know that a tick bite may also lead to a meat allergy?

treating allergic reaction with epinephrineAlpha-gal allergy appeared on the medical radar in 2002, when a number of patients exhibited an allergic reaction to the cancer drug Cetuximab. It was later discovered that Cetuximab contains the same alpha-gal sugar as meat. A connection between tick bites and meat allergy was made only after the scientist involved in this research, Thomas Platts-Mills of the University of Virginia, was himself bitten by a tick and developed the allergy.

Alpha-gal is a sugar that is found in mammalian meat such as cows, sheep, and pigs. The allergy often stems from exposure to the lone star tick, which contains the same sugar in its saliva. Researchers from the University of Virginia estimate there are over 1,500 cases of alpha-gal allergy in the U.S. These cases are more prevalent in areas where the lone star tick is found….Join or login below to continue reading.

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