CDC says Tick Bites Could Cause Allergy to Red Meat

CDC says Tick Bites Could Cause Allergy to Red Meat
Published: Aug. 6, 2023 at 2:52 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - In the summer months, everyone is doing their best to soak up the extra warmth outside. But there is a risk hiding in tall grass - and packs a strong bite

While ticks are active year round, Americans notice a surge of tick bites in the summer - thanks to the extra time outdoors. In regards to associated risks, Kentuckians are usually focused on catching both Rocky Mountain Fever and Lyme Disease from bites - but a new report released by the CDC adds a new syndrome to the list.

Jonathan Larson, an Entomologist with UK explains, “Alpha Gal, or Red Meat Allergy Syndrome - its a problem where you are bitten by a lone star tick. The lone star tick passes a sugar molecule from your saliva into its bloodstream. You body starts to react to it as an allergen, and then when you consume red meat, your body will react the same way.”

Thanks to the transfer of this syndrome through tick bites, people are experiencing an allergy to red meat - putting a damper on those summer grilling plans.

Larson said, “So when you have a hamburger or a hotdog, about 6 to 8 hours after consuming that food, you will start to have stomach pain, you could sweat, you could have increased mucus production - it’s very uncomfortable.”

The CDC reported in July that since 2010, there were more than 110,000 suspected cases of Alpha Gal syndrome identified - but because the official diagnosis requires a positive test, some individuals might completely miss being diagnosed.

“More people are impacted by it than we previously thought. It’s something that’s still relatively new, it’s only really been talked about since 2010 - but we are starting to learn more and more about it. Allergists are studying it and figuring out exactly how widespread it is,” Larson said.

So make sure once you are done enjoying the summer sun - you give yourself a tick check to stay safe from the punch those tiny tick bites can pack.

“After any activity outdoors I would encourage people to do a tick check - to check your body for parasites walking up and down it so you can remove them before they take a bite.”