According to the well-respected PBS radio program, “People’s Pharmacy,” a Lone-Star tick bite can cause a delayed allergic reaction to red meat and other substances.
Once the tick bites you, you can get an allergic reaction or go into anaphylactic shock every time you eat the offending food. It sounds strange, yet this disease is showing up all over the Southeast, which is widely inhabited by the Lone-Star tick.
Apparently patients began to show up in ERs with a delayed anaphylactic reaction to–at that time–an unknown substance. If an affected person ate red meat, the allergic reaction often happened many hours after the initial exposure to the meat. Typical allergic reactions occur soon after ingestion of the offending food, not nine hours later.
Mike Beck, who had received tick exposure during yard work, woke up in the middle of the night with a stomach ache, rash, and hives. He had eaten red meat before going to bed. The second time he ate red meat, he went into serious anaphylactic shock, and had he not gone to the ER, he would have died. The only cure for him was to avoid all red meat.
Researchers and physicians discovered that something in the tick saliva encourages antibodies to a substance called Alpha-Gal. Due to these antibodies, the tick bite induces a reaction or anaphylaxis to certain foods or products.
What to look for: Beware of areas heavily inhabited by deer (whose population is rapidly expanding), as deer carry ticks. If you are bitten by a Lone-Star tick, and you receive intense itching (a hallmark sign of Alpha-Gal), you should probably take action, especially if you have some kind of allergic reaction after eating red meat or other foods. At that point, you will want to purchase an Epi-Pen, a kit you can carry with you at all times to arrest anaphylaxis.