You Can Now Add Another Worry Concerning Ticks
Experts say this year's tick season is shaping up to be possibly the worst in recent memory. But apart from Lyme disease and other tick-borne ailments, a new threat is emerging: Apparently, bites from ticks can trigger an allergy to red meat, according to ABC News' Medical Unit.
In susceptible individuals, multiple tick bites appear to result in sensitization to alpha-gal, a substance present in red meat, which then causes an allergic reaction, according to Dr. Scott Commins of the University of North Carolina
In adults, the most common symptoms of this red-meat allergy include itching, hives, and gastrointestinal symptoms, according to Commins.
Symptoms may occur in a few minutes, or as long as three to six hours after eating red meat, Commins said.
There’s no established treatment, but people who fear they are susceptible can avoid red meat, and learn how to use an EpiPen if needed for accidental exposures. This allergy can become less severe over time.
The best protection is prevention: Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants and enclosed shoes when you’re outdoors, and tuck your pants into your socks keeps the bloodsuckers out.
The CDC also suggests wearing insect repellent containing DEET and, if you've been in tall vegetation, performing daily self-examinations for ticks and removing them.