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Entomologist warns about tickborne meat allergy

University of Tennessee Entomologist shares info about a tick bite that can cause a meat allergy.
Published: Jul. 11, 2021 at 6:11 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Ticks can be found all year round, but the peak of tick season takes place in the summer.

University of Tennessee’s Entomologist Becky Trout Fryxell says along with Lyme Disease, more cases of Alpha-Gal syndrome are popping up, from those who encounter the Lonestar Tick.

“She likes to feed on dogs, deer and seems to always find people as well,” said Fryxell “It has the ability to transmit a lot of pathogens too. And it’s also associated with a tick meat allergy which unfortunately is becoming pretty common.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and prevention, Alpha-gal syndrome (AGS) (also called alpha-gal allergy, red meat allergy, or tick bite meat allergy) is a serious, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. AGS may occur after people eat red meat or are exposed to other products containing alpha-gal.

The CDC also says Symptoms commonly appear 3-6 hours after eating meat or exposure to products containing alpha-gal (for example, gelatin-coated medications).

Some of the symptoms of the allergy include: Rash, Hives, Nausea or vomiting, Difficulty breathing, Drop in blood pressure, Dizziness or faintness and Severe stomach pain.

Fryxell says the Alpha-Gal Syndrome meat allergy occurs when the tick injects a type of sugar from its’ saliva.

“So then later on when you or I went to go eat a hamburger we would have a really bad immune response to that hamburger, to the meat consumption,” says Fryxell.

The entomologist says the severity of the allergy varies from person to person. The meat allergy could wear off overtime in some, but could last permanently in others.

When it comes to protecting yourself from ticks, she suggests wearing light colored clothing to help make a color contrast distinction of a tick, and to wear bug repellant.

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