The threat of contracting a tick-borne illness in the North Shore area is enough to keep residents on their toes. In addition to the many dangers associated with tick bites, a new breakthrough could put an end to enjoying a perfectly grilled steak at one of the best restaurants in Ipswich, and even put an end to relishing a loaded hamburger at the backyard barbecue!
New research indicates that being bitten by a Lone Star tick can actually cause an allergy to red meat, even if you have never had a previous problem eating it before. These allergic reactions usually begin three to six hours following the consumption of red meat. The allergic reactions can range from vomiting and abdominal cramps to hives and anaphylaxis, which can lead to breathing difficulties and sometimes even death. Unlike typical food allergies, the symptoms are delayed. The timing of the allergic reactions can happen during the night after enjoying dinner at your favorite restaurant prior to returning home and calling it a night. This is especially dangerous because those suffering from this new tick related food allergy have no idea what is happening to them when they are awoken by debilitating symptoms, and are confused as to why this is happening and what is going on?
According to an article recently published by The Wall Street Journal, U.S. cases of the unusual allergy were first identified at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville in 2007, and are now being reported as far north as Nantucket, Mass., and on the east end of New York’s Long Island. While The lone star tick is not established in Massachusetts, they have been recorded in large numbers on Cape Cod and as far north as the state of Maine.
The article points out that the link between ticks and the allergy was discovered serendipitously by an allergy specialist at the University of Va. Thomas Platts-Mills discovered the tick connection while investigating why some cancer patients had severe allergic reactions to the drug cetuximab in 2006. Blood tests revealed they had pre-existing antibodies to a certain sugar commonly known as alpha-gal, which is present in the drug and found naturally in mammalian meat. Curiously, only the cancer patients from the southeastern “tick-belt” states had the allergic reaction. And as U. Va. researchers checked for the antibodies to alpha-gal in their (non-cancer-stricken) allergy patients, the same geographic pattern held true. What’s more, some had reported having allergic reactions hours after eating beef, lamb or pork and in some circumstances even after eating marshmallows and taking gel-cap vitamins.
The research surrounding the link between the Lone Star tick and meat allergies is in the early stages. Experts say such tick-triggered red-meat allergies may have been occurring all along, unnoticed, for decades. But they also think such cases are increasing as the population of Lone Star ticks continues to rise, along with its natural hosts, white-tailed deer and wild turkey. Experts still are uncertain why some people who are bitten by lone star ticks develop the antibodies to alpha-gal and others don’t. The good news is the symptoms seem to fade a few years after onset as long as the patient is not bitten again.
The best safeguard against falling victim to this new tick-related food allergy is to reduce the risk of being bitten by a tick in the first place. Mosquito Squad of the North Shore urges residents to exercise tick safe practices at home and abroad, and instill the services of a licensed tick control professional to protect your property.
Contact Mosquito Squad of the North Shore to learn more about our highly effective tick control and prevention service. Our safe and effective barrier spray, followed by our intensive tick tube placement can eliminate ticks on your property and the risk of coming in contact with the Lone Star tick. Call us today for a free quote • (978) 887 – 1177 •
Call us today for a free quote • (978) 887 – 1177 • email: firstname.lastname@example.org