Meat Allergy Caused by Tick Bite Is the Most Common Cause of Anaphylaxis

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An allergic reaction to alpha-gal (a complex sugar found in red meat) is now the most common known cause of anaphylaxis, say researchers at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, whose study was published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. The source of this life-threatening allergy? The bite of a Lone Star tick.

Red-meat allergy caused by a tick bite was first identified in 2008. In the Tennessee study, which involved 218 cases of anaphylaxis between 2006 and 2016, 33 percent were from alpha-gal. Prior to discovery of this red-meat allergy and the development of diagnostic testing, the cause of many cases of anaphylaxis could not be determined. Other food allergies accounted for the second-highest number of anaphylaxis cases in the study (24 percent).

Lone Star tick bites can cause an allergy to beef, pork, venison, and other meats, and allergy symptoms often take hours to develop, unlike most allergic reactions to food which occur within 60 minutes. Alpha-gal allergies are diagnosed with a blood test.

Sourced from: Annals of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology