Trending Tuesday: The Tick that Makes You Allergic to Red Meat is REAL

It's no urban legend! According to the CDC, a bite from this tick can give you a meat allergy.

June 19, 2018

Bad news for carnivores.

You may have heard a rumor that a simple bug bite can have disastrous consequences...namely, can give you an allergy to red meat.

Well, guess what, listener.  It's true.  It's not an urban legend.  It's not a myth.  And it's the CDC who says so.

The Centers for Disease Control released its May 2018 report, and the findings are a bit alarming.  Apparently, the Lone Star tick, or amblyomma americanum, which can be found throughout the Eastern and Southeastern United States, can transmit a disease called galactose-alpha.  A bite from a tick like this can trigger an individual's immune system to create antibodies to the alpha-gal sugar, not normally found in humans but present in red meat.  Those antibodies will make the individual's body reject the sugar in red meat, resulting in a serious allergic reaction and symptoms of analphylaxis..

What's strange is that this reaction can occur as few as 3 hours after a tick bite, meaning there is little warning and often no idea as to the source of the allergic reaction.  And, if you've never woken up in the middle of the night with analphylaxis before and no idea why...trust us, it's terrifying.

But there's hope!

Just like with other ticks, the Lone Star tick can be avoided and you can take measures to prevent insect bites.  According to the CDC, here are six ways to limit your exposure:

  • Use an EPA-registered insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone on exposed skin, always making sure to follow the manufacturer's directions. (And do not use insect repellent on babies who aren't 2 months old yet.)
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, avoid brushy areas and walk in the center of trails when you're out in the woods.
  • Treat outdoor gear, such as boots, pants, socks, and tents, with products that contain .5 percent permethrin or use permethrin-treated clothing and gear. The protection should last through at least a couple of washings.
  • When you come back indoors, conduct a full-body tick check using a handheld or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas. Parents should check their children for ticks.
  • Use products that will control ticks and fleas on your pets, making sure you never apply topical dog flea medicine like Frontline to cats.
  • Take steps to control mosquitoes, ticks and fleas inside and outside your home, using screens on windows, for example, and turning on the air conditioning instead of opening windows when you can.

So be forewarned, TDY fans.  This may not be the best trending news for #TrendingTuesday, but it's important to know!  Stay safe this summer!