Anaphylaxis to meat – Oh, dear.

English: The tick Amblyomma americanum (Lone S...

English: The tick Amblyomma americanum (Lone Star tick) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have a look at this paper.  It describes in detail a newly recognized medical problem.  The bite of the lone star tick can make a person allergic to all mammalian meat.  The reaction these people display is an anaphylactic reaction, the type of allergy reaction that can be profound and can be deadly.  What can be particularly confusing is that the reaction can be 3-6 hours after eating.  Anaphylactic reactions usually occur very rapidly after exposure to the trigger foods, so the diagnosis can be missed. These reactions tend to develop in severity over time.  A person might have some reaction episodes where the symptoms are partial or mild, and therefore are missed or mis-diagnosed, before later having reaction episodes that are severe and possibly rapidly fatal.

The full text of the paper is posted free online. Go to the abstract and click on PDF.

The authors list the key points as (quote):

1. A newly recognized syndrome of meat-induced delayed anaphylaxis has been identified and may explain some cases that were previously labeled idiopathic.

2 Individuals bitten by lone star ticks may develop IgE antibodies to galactose- α-1,3-galactose (alpha-gal) and later develop a reaction when exposed to alpha-gal present on mammalian meat.

3 Since the reaction typically occurs 3-6 hours after exposure, it usually presents as a patient waking up in the middle of the night, with hives and anaphylaxis, after having ingested meat for dinner.

4. Current guidance is to counsel patients to avoid all mammalian meat (beef, pork, lamb and venison).

Map of the range of the Lone Star Tick (Amblyo...

Map of the range of the Lone Star Tick (Amblyomma americanum). Red indicates where the species is normally found; Blue indicates other locations where the species has been reported. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since this syndrome has only just been recognised, it will be awhile before we know how common it is.  If you suspect you might have had episodes of allergic reaction to meat, stop eating meat until you can discuss this with a doctor. Print out the article and take it with you. If you suspect you might now be in the midst of an allergic reaction to meat, seek urgent medical care now.

Thanks to tweet from @whole9life for heads up on this.

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