The more scientists look into allergies, the more questions seem to rise. One mystery was solved, after all up the East Coast patients were reporting allergies to meat. Scientists found a lone star tick that spreads meat allergies to be the cause of the mystery.
A recent research from the University of Virginia shows that ticks are even more dangerous. Besides being responsible for the spread of Lyme disease and the Rocky Mountain spotted fever, the lone star tick has been linked to a meat allergy. Enjoying a juicy stake comes with the risk of itchy hives that appear within three to six hours.
“People will eat beef and then anywhere from three to six hours later start having a reaction; anything from hives to full-blown anaphylactic shock” explains a researcher with the University of Virginia.
The mysterious meat allergy has so far impacted over 1,500 people up the East Coast. Dr. Scott Commins, assistant professor of medicine with the University of Virginia, explained in a statement for CNN it’s hard to prove exactly how the lone star tick is infecting the meat. “Perhaps there is an organism in the tick’s saliva that makes a person allergic to the alpha-gal sugar in mammalian meat” he said.
The mysterious meat allergy has been named by scientists as alpha-gal or galactose-aplha-1. Dr. Thomas Platts-Mills, also involved in the research, said “the answer to the allergy is sugar”. The alpha-gal is a cluster of sugars found in all the meat coming from non-primate mammals. Platts-Mills explained that in France, doctors have had anaphylaxis caused by horse and goat meat.
Although researchers are still looking for the mechanism, in 90 percent of the 1,500 mysterious meat allergic reactions, the patients had a history of tick bites. According to Platts-Mills the more tick bites a person has, the more increases the risk of alpha-gal. The three to six hours onset is also puzzling scientists.
Dr. Stanley Fineman, American College of Allergy Asthma and Immunology president, told ABC News: “It’s very atypical as food allergies go. Most food allergies occur very quickly. And it’s also a bit unusual to see adults develop a food allergy”.
As with many other allergies, scientists say the best way to stay healthy is simply avoid the allergens. When it comes to ticks, avoidance might be trickier than imagined.