The bite of a certain type of tick can cause you to develop an allergy to red meat, Fox News is reporting.
In an extreme case of irony, the bug that causes the meat allergy is known as the Lone Star Tick, named after Texas, where red meat is almost a religion.
Here’s what happens: In red meat there is a carbohydrate present in red meat, known as Alpha-gal. It’s actually called Galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose, but allergists call it Alpha-gal for simplicity’s sake. This carbohydrate is present in beef, venison, pork, and even some dairy products, and is generally digested harmlessly. It is also present in the saliva of the tick.
When the tick bites a person, the human immune system reacts to the carbohydrate and creates antibodies to it, meaning the next time the victim eats red meat, they’ll likely have an allergic reaction.
Those reactions can be terrifying, if not life-threatening. As Nashville-area resident Margaret Ann Horn tells WWL-TV (New Orleans):
“I had to go to the emergency room for the first time in my life. I had some pretty severe swelling. I had a rash on my chin. I had to have IVs and all that stuff.”
Louise Danzig of New York state had a similar, terrifying reaction. A few hours after eating a burger, Danzig tells Fox News:
“I woke up with very swollen hands that were on fire with itching. I could feel my lips and tongue were getting swollen. I was losing my ability to speak and my airway was closing.”
The Lone Star Tick, and Alpha-gal allergies, are nothing new. The Entomology Society was quick to point out, via Twitter, that they were on the case last year.
— Entomology Society (@EntsocAmerica) August 8, 2014
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Lone Star Tick is most prevalent in the southeastern U.S., but is spreading north and west.
Infectious diseases have been making the news this summer. The Chikungunya virus, which causes joint pain that can last for years, hit Florida last month (see this Inquisitr article). The ongoing Ebola outbreak, which has killed nearly a thousand people in West Africa, has seen sick patients being sent to hospitals in the U.S. (see this Inquisitr article).
Are you concerned about a tick bite turning you into a reluctant vegan? Let us know what you think in the Comments.
[Image courtesy of: Fox News]