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Likelihood of Red Meat Allergy by A Tick Bite: Diagnosis, Causes, and Prevention

tick meat allergy

Induced tick meat allergy is an allergy; generally known as tick bite red meat allergy to specific types of meat caused by a lone star tick bite. Galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose is a carbohydrate that causes the allergy (also known as Alpha-gal). This carbohydrate may be found in mammalian flesh (red meat) such as beef, hog, venison, and lamb. Some people’s allergies are restricted to beef as well as other high-fat foods. Alpha-gal can also be present in protein powder, milk products, gelatin, and the cancer medicine Cetuximab; allergic reactions to these goods have been recorded.

Who can develop tick meat allergies?

Tick meat allergies can emerge in a small fraction of people affecting both adults and children who have been bitten by a lone star tick. It is still unknown how often tick red meat allergy sensitivity occurs. It is linked to a tick bite history. If it is not known in a timely manner, the danger could be increased by multiple tick bites.

The tick meat allergy develops in persons who are exposed to ticks owing to their geographic location or work. For example, forestry service professionals and hunters in particular nations are more likely than the general population to contain alpha-gal specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) and develop tick meat allergies. Tick bite red meat allergy can be exacerbated by systemic mastocytosis.

Allergy specialist

Causes of tick bite red meat allergy:

The specifics of how a tick bite causes red meat allergic responses to red meat and other foods are unknown. Ticks that induce alpha-gal allergy include the following:

  • A type of species called a lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum) is a species of tick found in the United States
  • Another called castor bean tick (Ixodes ricinus) was discovered in Europe
  • Other is the paralysis tick (Ixodes holocyclus) has been discovered in Australia
  • Also, an Australian hard tick species Ixodes (Endopalpiger) australiensis

An unidentified tick subspecies is common in South Africa and some other parts of the world. The tick injects alpha-gal-containing saliva into the victim’s skin. The formation of particular IgE antibodies to alpha-gal is related to sensitization to the glucose. It is unknown which component of alpha-gal causes sensitization which results in tick bite allergies.

The indications of the following reaction to red meat seem similar to those of many allergies, with the exception that the response is delayed by plenty of hours and the antigen in the meat is a carbohydrate rather than a protein. People who have been bitten by many ticks may experience more severe symptoms.

Red meat is described as all meat derived from animals, including beef, pig, and lamb. Because of the high quantities of myoglobin, a protein that delivers oxygen to the muscles, the flesh appears red. Flesh derived from birds, like chicken or turkey, is meat that lacks alpha-gal and so does not cause an allergic reaction.

This can further be explained as when a person gets attacked by a lone star tick, they might develop this tick meat allergy. The alpha-gal carbohydrate is present in tick saliva, which is deposited into a person’s skin during feeding. In reaction, the person’s body will produce immunoglobulin E antibodies to oppose the presence of the foreign material. After eating red meat and digesting Alpha-gal Carbohydrates, the person’s immune system may launch an attack to encounter tick meat allergy.

Symptoms of tick bite red meat allergy:

Hives, swelling of skin and tissue called angioedema, problems with gastrointestinal functions, diarrhea, runny nose, headaches, wheezing, and a decrease in blood pressure, and, in rare cases, anaphylaxis can all be symptoms of a tick meat allergy.

An allergic response usually develops four to eight hours after ingesting the red meat. This delay in allergy reaction is rare since most of the food allergies arise shortly after the offending item is consumed.

Diagnosis for tick meat allergy:

A clinician or allergist can identify induced red meat allergy by doing a meat allergy test following a blood test and submitting the sample of blood to a laboratory for clinical examination.

Patients commonly self-diagnose alpha-gal allergy utilizing web resources, oral meal challenges, and rational thinking. Testing for IgE antibody titers against the alpha-gal molecule is the most accurate approach to detecting tick meat allergy. Unfortunately, the associated increased cost and scarcity of this test restrict its use. On the other hand, skin prick testing is commonly used to detect IgE-related food allergies. As delayed responses and false-negative findings are recorded, the procedure and validity of the skin prick testing for alpha-gal allergy are being questioned.

Treatment for tick bite red meat allergy:

Although there is no treatment for this allergy, however, non-fatal allergic responses can be managed with over-the-counter antihistamines. If the response is intense, like low blood pressure or anaphylaxis, a rush to the nearest emergency room is required, where an epinephrine injection may be administered.

According to the limited evidence available, alpha-gal allergy may fade over time if that individual is not attacked by another tick. According to reports, the recuperation period might be anywhere from 8 months to 5 years.

Prevention tips to avoid tick meat allergy:

Avoiding contact with lone star ticks can help you avoid developing a red meat allergy. The most prevalent tick species that bite individuals in Virginia are lone star ticks. If the individual has a record of an earlier developed tick meat allergy, they should avoid all mammalian meats. Some people’s allergies will fade over time, especially if they don’t get bitten by a lone star tick again.

See Also: How Fragrance Allergies Could Affect Your Health and its Management

You may contact our healthcare practitioners if you do have questions about an acquired tick bite red meat allergy. Make a call to Family Medicine Austin`s clinic today to get instant assistance from our experts.

Family Medicine Austin

Written by Jeannette

I am Jeannette, the medical writing specialist here at Family Medicine Austin. I have over five years of experience working with a range of medical and healthcare across the U.S.