Do you like eating red meat? Then, avoid Ticks

by Jennifer Smith June 22, 2017

We are learning more about the Lone Star Tick as more knowledge is released to the public. We know that the Lone Star Tick is aggressive and will seek out a human or pet as its next meal. We know that Lone Star Ticks are found throughout southeastern and south-central states and that they do not transmit Lyme Disease. We know that the white "star" on its shell is how the tick got its name. We knew all of this; but we were not prepared to learn that a tick bite from a Lone Star can lead to a red-meat allergy. As if we didn't have enough to worry about with the risk for Lyme Disease transmission, the Powassan Virus, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and other tick-borne illnesses. Now, no red meat?

Some Lone Stars may be carrying Alpha-Gal, the nickname for sugar molecule alpha-1,3-galactose that might cause someone to become allergic to red meat such as pork, beef and lamb. Currently, there are treatments available for side effects from food allergies; but no cure or vaccine.

Once bitten by a Lone Star Tick, the body's immune system is rewired. Most people realize that they are carrying the Alpha-Gal "allergy" in their system after they eat red meat. Patients that have had allergic reactions from the tick bite experience vomiting, diarrhea, shortness of breath and break out in hives.

Lone Star ticks have been discovered in the Midwest and along the East Coast of the United States, found in states including Maine, New Hampshire and Minnesota. Experts, however, say that the Canadian invasion is on its way, although not many Lone Stars have been spotted.

Professor Dr. Vett Lloyd, in New Brunswick, has already found Lone Star Ticks in the area.

“It’s more than zero but we’re not drowning in them by any means. They’ve been dropping off birds or large mammals. They’re not established at this point but they may become established with climate change,” she warned.

Because humans come into contact with ticks most in the warm, summer months, DeerbustersCanada advises individuals to do the following:

  • Wear light-colored clothing to easily spot a tick on the skin;
  • Spray tick repellents around the yard to avoid ticks crawling into homes;
  • Spray insect repellent on skin, especially around the ankles, when hiking, jogging, or gardening;
  • Bring tick tweezers when camping.

How to remove a tick

Jennifer Smith
Jennifer Smith