Red Meat Allergy Linked To Tick Bites

Two steaks cooking in a skillet
Move aside peanuts, shellfish, fruits, or wheat. A bite from the lone star tick might spark an allergy to beef, pork and lamb, researchers say.

The meat allergy, known as alpha-gal for a sugar carbohydrate found in beef, lamb, and pork, produces a hive-like rash – and, in some people, a dangerous anaphylactic reaction – roughly four hours after consuming the meat. It’s caused by antibodies to the alpha-gal sugar that are produced in humans after they are bitten by common Lone Star ticks.

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Now, the government has not yet issued health warnings about meat allergies associated with these ticks — such allergies are still quite rare, and like many other food allergies, the presence of the antibody doesn’t necessarily guarantee an allergic response. Scientists say the allergy-inducing tick bites have affected about 1,500 people since it was first reported in 2008 —compared to the roughly 25,000 new cases of Lyme diseases reported every year.