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article imageStudy: Tick bites may lead to being allergic to red meat

By Abigail Prendergast     Jul 25, 2012 in Science
The Amblyomma americanum, or Lone Star tick, is believed to be the culprit behind a delayed allergic response to red meat called Anaphylaxis. Researchers noted that after being bitten by the tick, patients develop a resistance to a carb in the food.
Anaphylaxis - a life-threatening allergic reaction - has long been linked to things like peanuts and bee stings. Now new item can be added to the repertoire of potentially deadly allergy-causing products: red meat.
According to Sci-News, the condition was first noticed in the Southeastern United States. Patients were known to "wake up in the middle of the night, with hives or anaphylaxis usually three to six hours after having eaten red meat for dinner."
It wasn't until recently, however, that a probable link between the consumption of red meat and Anaphylaxis came into focus. In a study led by Virginia Commonwealth University's Dr. Susan Wolver and Dr. Diane Sun, it appeared likely that the development of antibodies to the anti-gal carbohydrate is caused by nothing other than a tick bite. In particular a bite from the Amblyomma americanum, the Lone Star tick.
Ticks, like spiders, belong to the Arachnid family and latch onto their host's skin upon biting them. Most tick bites occur in the early spring and late summer reports Medical News Today. Avoiding them is relatively easy, as it is advised to stay clear of heavily wooded or bushy areas, and also take a shower upon returning indoors and get checked for them.
As far as the allergy itself is concerned, the resistance to the anti-gal via release of histamine to what the body sees as a virus can lead to hives and Anaphylaxis, albeit a delayed response, it is nevertheless potentially deadly.
Also noted is that this is the first case of food allergy where a carbohydrate, as opposed to a protein, was the culprit. This case is also the first to have a delayed allergic response instead of an immediate one.
Ultimately, Dr. Wolver and Dr. Sun came to the conclusion that: “Where ticks are endemic, for example in the southeastern United States, clinicians should be aware of this new syndrome when presented with a case of anaphylaxis. Current guidance is to counsel patients to avoid all mammalian meat – beef, pork, lamb and venison,”
More about tick bite, lone star tick, Anaphylaxis, Delay
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