Ticks are known to cause some serious discomforts, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme borreliosis. But an allergist and adjunct professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, warns that some of these small arachnids – especially the Lone Star tick – can cause another problem: an allergy to red meat. Allergy caused by a lone star tick bite is relatively rare, the number of cases is from the approximately two dozen Dr. Scott Commins and his colleagues, who first studied in 2009, rose sharply, he told Fox News.
Commins, one of the first physicians to have discovered the link between lone-star tick bites and alpha-gal meat allergy, estimates that there are currently more than 5,000 cases in the US, with additional cases in countries like Sweden and South Africa. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are 30,000 cases of Lyme disease in the nation each year.
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Commins identifies a few factors that may explain the increase.
First, doctors can now do a blood test that detects the allergy, "which made the diagnosis much easier," he said.
In addition, the "reach of the Lone Star The Zeck is increasing and expanding," said Commins, which ultimately increases the chance of being bitten. High cost of living could be partly responsible for the fact that in recent years, more people act urban life for the suburbs. This movement results in closer contact with ticks bearing deer, thereby increasing the likelihood of tick bites.
Finally, Commins said that an increased awareness of the allergy has caused those with symptoms to talk to their doctor and examine a Lone Star tick bite may be the cause.
Tick-borne diseases are on the rise, here's what you need to know about the red meat allergy and how lone star ticks – named after the white spot on the backs of adult women – may be to blame.
How do Lone Star tick bites trigger a meat allergy?
In short, scientists and doctors are not sure.
"[We’re] I am not sure if the tick caused the disease because of an infection We have made the association with tick bites," he said, adding that the saliva of the tick could be a factor.
"All these ticks have a common pathogen," he said. "It could be a protein or an enzyme in tick spitting, which we're working on in the lab right now."
Commins also suggests that the allergy may have less to do with the tick itself than with the tick's host.
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There is a chance that there might be a "subtle mutation of a protein in a skin" that targets certain people Lone bitten makes Star Star Tick more susceptible to the development of allergy, he explained.
In other words, "there are 5,000 estimated cases in the US Based on these opportunities, only a fraction of people develop the allergic reaction to red meat."
If you are bitten by a Lone Star tick, do not panic: there is no guarantee that you will develop the allergy. In fact, Commins called the opportunity "unlikely".
What are the symptoms?
Similar to the symptoms of peanut, egg, nut or shellfish allergy, many people who are allergic to red meat may develop symptoms such as hives, rash or anaphylaxis.
Commins warned that many also experienced "severe GI [gastrointestinal] complaints" such as stomach pain, indigestion, vomiting and diarrhea. Some people have described their gastrointestinal symptoms as "stinging pain or a hot poker", he added.
In contrast to those with a peanut or egg allergy, the symptoms of a red meat allergy, among others, are not immediate. In fact, according to Commins, it usually takes hours after eating red meat for symptoms to appear.
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"If you wake up at night In the middle of the night with bad abdominal pain, do not think about food allergy," he said, explaining that the gastrointestinal symptoms can mimic those of a kidney stone or gallstones. This can lead to a misdiagnosis in which some patients have their gallbladder removed in extreme situations.
"Patients feel cured first, and the next time they eat red meat, it happens again," he said
Is it treatable?
While Commins said researchers are working on a cure or treatment plan, there is currently no cure for those diagnosed with an Alpha-gal meat allergy.
Most with the allergy can avoid red meat containing, among others, beef, lamb, pork, veal, goat
However, the news is not bad.
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"There's a bright spot, this is one of those food allergies that will dissipate over time," he said, though he noted that additional tick bites could prolong the condition.
Commins explained that the allergy cells responsible for the red meat allergy do not usually become long lasting memory cells, unlike those associated with peanut and tree nut allergies.
"The allergy can disappear, it's not a lifelong thing," he said.