Call for an appointment

(919) 471-3351

Durham, NC

Ticks Causing Red Meat Allergy: 5 Things You Need to Know about Alpha-Gal 

May 11, 2016 | Medical Topics

Lone Star Tick

Lone Star Tick

1. Lone Star tick bites cause this new allergy. 2. Unexplained rashes, swelling, and potentially fatal anaphylactic allergic reactions could be explained by Alpha-Gal. 3. Know how to properly remove any tick to prevent tick-borne disease. 4. Know how to prevent tick bites. 5. Most physicians are unfamiliar with Alpha-Gal, so watch for this one yourself.

 

 

Alpha-Gal Urticaria

Alpha-Gal Urticaria

Galactose-Alpha- 1,3-Galactose (Alpha-Gal), the substance the Lone Star can inject into you, induces an immune response in humans. Unfortunately, red meat also contains Alpha-Gal, so patients primed against Alpha-Gal may develop allergic symptoms up to 8 hours after eating red meat, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4313755/. Here’s how to know if you might have Alpha-Gal: Worst case scenario you eat red meat and immediately or within 8 hours, you develop anaphylaxis– your throat starts to close off (Call 911 and treat with an EpiPen.); angioedema–your eyes or other body parts begin to swell and you become itchy; urticaria–you develop splotchy, extremely itchy blotches; or hives–you develop itchy bumps. Anaphylaxis and angioedema are medical emergencies. In each case, follow up with your doctor, who may test you for Alpha-Gal. Symptoms may lag 8 hours behind eating meat, so you may not recall having eaten red meat, including beef, pork, lamb, etc.—mammalian meats.

Common Ticks

Common Ticks

Lone Star ticks (Amblyoma Americanum) transmit Alpha-Gal by injecting saliva into hosts during feeding. Other ticks do not cause Alpha-Gal, but they do cause at least 15 other potentially fatal and disabling diseases, including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (see dog tick picture), Lyme Disease (see blacklegged tick—in NC we call it a deer tick), http://www.cdc.gov/ticks/diseases/index.html. Recognize the Lone Star tick by the white dot on her back, and the less conspicuous light brown spot on his back. Alpha-Gal was discovered in Australia in 2007, and now enjoys world-wide distribution. In Eastern US, the beautiful white tail deer (see

White-Tail Deer

White-Tail Deer

picture), with its exploding population, harbors a large percentage of Lone Stars. In Australia, the cute Bandicoot (see picture) hosts much of the Alpha-Gal- carrying ticks.

 

Stay tuned for my next article, “Preventing Tick Bites and How to Remove an Embedded Tick without Getting Yourself Sick.” Of course, the best way not to catch the

Bandicoot

Bandicoot

Alpha-Gal allergy is to not get bitten in the first place. Hint: Think insect repellant. But if that fails and you find yourself with a hitchhiking tick, use the proper type of tweezers, grasp the tick right up on your skin, pulling steadily away from the skin. Proper technique is crucial. My next article will describe it all.

Principle 5: Knowledge is golden and can save your life. Remember this article and if you have—or develop—unexplained allergies, ask your doctor if Alpha-Gal is developing. Keep in mind that most physicians have never heard of Alpha-Gal. So be patient with him/her and send him/her this email!

John T Kihm, MD practices concierge internal medicine in Durham, NC. www.prioritymedicine.com. Feel free to share this news blog.

Dr. Kihm's News

Archives

Keep up with Dr. Kihm’s news. Subscribe and you’ll get the news sent directly to your email.

Subscribe to
Dr. Kihm's News

Priority Medicine
John. T. Kihm, M.D., F.A.C.P.

3811 N. Roxboro Road – Suite B
Durham, NC 27704

Directions

Tel (919) 471-3351
Fax (919) 471-3313

Office Hours:

Monday
8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Tuesday
8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Wednesday
8:00 am – 1:00 pm
Thursday
8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Friday
8:00 am – 5:00 pm