A tick local to the South is spreading into the East and Midwest and its bite can put a bite into your love of red meats.
Meet the Lone Star Tick.
The tick doesn’t spread Lyme disease, but its bite can cause a severe food allergy known as alpha-gal-syndrome.
When the tick feasts on mammals it ingests alpha-gal sugars. If hosting on humans later, it injects these alpha-gal sugars into its host. The human immune system is triggered to develop antibodies, and when the host ingests red meats the immune system recognizes the red meats as a foreign substance, producing a severe response.
This allergy can produce symptoms from rash, hives, itching, swelling, shortness of breath, headaches, abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting to anaphylaxis, potentially fatal. The symptoms typically develop hours after ingestion, and the allergy can last a lifetime.
More than 34,000 cases of AGS were reported between 2010 and 2018, and are growing. The increase in ticks are being attributed to warmer temperatures in winters causing more ticks to survive the season.