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21st Jun 2017

This is the insect that makes you allergic to red meat

Meat eaters beware.

For any meat lovers out there you might want to try and avoid these particular creepy crawlies.

We do indeed have ticks living among us here in Ireland which we wrote about previously regarding Lyme disease and the various ways to avoid their bites. But these little bugs have some diverse abilities and if you’re travelling to the United States or Mexico this summer, you should probably know what they are.

The tick known as the Lone Star Tick, due to the one white marking on the back of the female, has the ability to make you very allergic to meat and meat products. In the United States, the tick is most common in the south-east but due to warmer weather conditions it’s continuing to spread further afield.

When a person gets a bite from one of the ticks, they may find themselves allergic to the tiniest amount of meat in a very short space of time. According to Business Insider, Dr Ronald Saff, assistant clinical professor of medicine at the Florida State University College of Medicine says,

“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.”

With such a short period between the bite (which many people may not even notice) and eating red meat, it often proves difficult in trying to figure out what the issue is. And by the way, even the larvae can bite us humans.

The allergy is known as alpha-galactose or alpha-gal allergy which causes people to become irritable to the sugar compound found it the meat of mammals. The allergy can also prove to be extremely severe causing anaphylactic reactions, which includes swelling, vomiting and shortness of breath.

Much about the allergy caused by these bites is unknown and still needs a significant amount of research for us to be able to fully understand it, but it is believed that if we have the allergy and continue to consume meat, it will get worse.