With the start of summer upon us, news of children becoming deathly ill after suffering tick bites has come up. With parents already on the lookout, doctors have discovered a new symptom.
A bite from a Lone Star tick, commonly found throughout southeast states has been sending hundreds of people to the hospital after they’ve become sick: having an allergic reaction to meat.
People who had been eating red meat like beef and pork their entire lives, suddenly found themselves allergic to it.
The Daily Mail reports:
The discovery of the tick-related allergy is so new that no official organization has collected data, so experts don’t know what to expect for the height of tick season.
Doctors are reporting they have seen a dramatic rise in cases as the pesky insects have been spreading to the Midwest and northeast.
Experts recently uncovered the connection when patients were citing a sudden allergy to meat, although they have eaten the foods for years with no reaction.
Doctors then realized they all had bites from Lone Star ticks, sparking the revelation.
The reaction is to mammalian meat, including beef, pork and lamb, and differs from other food allergies by developing slowly.
Instead of the body reacting within minutes to the food, patients normally will have a reaction hours later.
The allergy’s symptoms include hives and shortness of breath, along with the possibility of an anaphylactic reaction, which is life-threatening.
Dr Scott Commins, of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, said to USA Today: ‘It’s not the classic “my throat is closing when I eat peanut butter,” reaction.
‘These [patients] would get hives and talk about G.I. distress, or needing to go to the restroom, and itching and swelling. Some would have to go to the ER to get treated.’
The bite causes an allergy to a sugar molecule that’s found in red meat, called alpha-galactose, or ‘alpha-gal’, according to Business Insider.
Dr. Ronald Saff, of Florida State University, said to the news outlet: ‘The weird thing about [this reaction] is it can occur within three to 10 or 12 hours, so patients have no idea what prompted their allergic reactions.’
Victims may have to dramatically alter their diets after the bite because there is no known cure for the alpha-gal allergy.
But doctors note the allergy typically fades over time.
However, the Northeast of the country has more tick diseases to worry about. Maine has been plagued with several casualties after a tick began spreading the Powassan virus, also known as deer tick virus.
The Deer tick virus causes long-term brain damage in humans, and sometimes death.
Always keep an eye on your clothes and skin when walking through any nature trails or parks. Check your children before they bring anything to the house. Doctors keep warning that prevention is key.