One Bite From This Tick Can Make You Allergic To Red Meat For Life (RIP, Hamburger for LIFE)


Most food allergies would take 15 or 20 minutes after exposure for severe reactions to transpire. If you are allergic to shrimp or fish your throat starts to close and parts of your body begin to swell. Things like this are scary and are very life threatening but it can seek immediate treatment.

Consider this frightening arachnid, more commonly known as the Lone Star Tick, which can surely transmit an illness with symptoms similar to Lyme disease, which can make victims allergic to red meat for life.


How?  Because this is caused by a particular sugar molecule known as Alpha-Gal (short for galactose-alpha-1, 3-galactose) that’s spread from the bites.

When someone is bitten by a Lone Star tick, the body’s immune system has to rewire itself in order to combat this newly introduced molecule. One bite will result in a permanent immune system alteration.

The Lone Star tick is distinct for the single, white star-shaped spot on its back, this is how this species gets its name. That, and for the fact that, if it bites you, you might not be able to truly enjoy a hamburger and barbeque ever again.

The bite of this rare breed of tick can also cause skin irritation, stomach cramps, and breathing difficulties.

“There’s something really special about this tick,” Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology researcher Jeff Wilson told Wired reporters. “Just a few bites and you can render anyone really, really allergic.”

In addition, they found out, “Treatment includes strict avoidance of cow, pork, and lamb, and some patients may also need to avoid mammalian organs such as kidney or liver, gelatins, and possibly even dairy milk depending on the patient.

In the past, allergy reports came mainly from the tick species’ native region in the Southeastern part of the U.S.  Recently, reports have been popular in other states.  Cases of these tick bites are expanding to far north of Minnesota and New York.

Doctors and researchers wanted to gain more knowledge about this.  At Vanderbilt Asthma, Sinus, and Allergy Program, they tried to collect blood samples from every new case.

Another thing is, lone star ticks are very aggressive, nymphs or the baby ticks and adult female lone star ticks tend to bite humans and transmit disease most frequently. Be on the lookout for these ticks, because lone star tick saliva is irritating.


As of now, doctors and scientists haven’t found a cure.  Once the allergy develops, your only option is to avoid red meat.

These ticks aren’t picky on who they bite; researchers still aren’t certain what compound in the ticks’  saliva triggers the allergy.  With no cure or vaccine, the only pro-tip scientists have: don’t get bit.

In other words, your body has to create Alpha-Gal antibodies to fight the molecule. Unfortunately, this same molecule is also highly prevalent in red meat.

Many victims do not realize what happened until the next time they ate meat.  Since the antibodies are most highly activated, the molecule traveled through their gastrointestinal tract.

“You’re walking through the woods, that tick has had a meal of cow blood or mammal blood,”  Cosby Stone, an allergy and immunology fellow at Vanderbilt University, told National Geographic. “The tick, carrying Alpha-Gal, bites you and activates your allergy immune system.”

In other words, your body has to create Alpha-Gal antibodies to fight the molecule. Unfortunately, this same molecule is also highly prevalent in red meat.

“Hours later, patients’ wake up with hives, shortness of breath, vomiting, and diarrhea,” Stone said.

“Some patients have had to be given life support because their blood pressure is so low that they’re in eminent [sic] danger of d***g,” she added.

For many people, it takes a few reactions before they realize meat is triggering the outbreaks. After all, they’ve eaten meat their entire lives and been totally fine.

Some people develop more sensitivity than others; a few can tolerate small amounts of meat. But some become so allergic that they can’t even consume animal products like dairy milk.

Experts suggested that Lone Star ticks can be k****d the same way you protect yourself against normal ticks.  And what do you do?  Use lots of bug spray, wear long sleeves, and avoid high grass.

We actually can’t tell whether the allergy goes away with time, but scientists think that both additional tick bites and meat consumption might worsen the condition.


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