Many people are familiar with the diseases that a tick bite can cause; Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia, to name a few. Now on top of all that, recently published findings by the former president of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology suggest that tick bites may cause allergic reactions to red meat. These findings indicate that certain tick saliva can cause the human immune system to produce antibodies to a carbohydrate that is found in red meat. This causes an allergic reaction when the antibodies come into contact with the allergen, in this instance the allergen being the carbohydrate. The antibodies will go into defense mode, by binding to the allergen and releasing “histamine” which is what causes the hives, swelling and breathing problems commonly associated with an allergic reaction. Unlike a typical food allergy though, the symptoms may take hours to present themselves.
Not all ticks are capable of spreading this allergy; the tick in question is the Lone Star Tick, aptly named for the spot on the females back. They are generally found between Texas to Maine.
Keep yourself safe!
- Avoid wooded, bushy, or grassy areas whenever possible. If you know you will be in these areas, wear light-colored clothing with long sleeves and long pants.
- Check yourself, your kids and pets daily.
- Keep your grass short and free of leaf piles.
- If you find a tick on yourself, remove it promptly!
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