A Tick Bite Could Make You Allergic to Meat

Alpha-Gal may sound empowering, but the nickname, short for galactose-alpha-1, 3-galactose, is a sugar molecule that might just cause you to become allergic to meat.

The sugar molecule is spread from the Lone Star tick bite, named for the Texas-shaped marking on its back. Once bitten by a Lone Star tick, the body’s immune system is rewired.

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

From this, your body creates Alpha-Gal antibodies and, from that point on, the body is wired to fight Alpha-Gal sugar molecules. The majority of people who develop Alpha-Gal allergy syndrome realize their illness after eating meat, which is rife with Alpha-Gal. The sugar is also present in some medications that use gelatins as stabilizers.

“There’s a time delay in the reaction,” said Stone, which accounts for why some people don’t always immediately realize they’re have a reaction. “It [the Alpha-Gal] has to first travel through your gastrointestinal tract to be released. Hours later, patients wake up with hives, shortness of breath, vomiting, and diarrhea.”

In rare cases, patients have to be admitted to the ICU.

“Some patients have had to be given life support because their blood pressure is so low that they’re in eminent danger of dying,” said Stone, who has treated those suffering a reaction. To continue article click here:¬†http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/06/tick-bite-meat-allergy-spreading-spd/

Ticks are small arachnids, part of the order Parasitiformes. Along with mites, they constitute the subclass Acari. Ticks are ectoparasites (external parasites), living by feeding on the blood of mammals, birds, and sometimes reptiles and amphibians. Ticks had evolved by the Cretaceous period, the most common form of fossilisation being immersed in amber. Ticks are widely distributed around the world, especially in warm, humid climates.

Almost all ticks belong to one of two major families, the Ixodidae or hard ticks, which are difficult to crush, and the Argasidae or soft ticks. Adults have ovoid or pear-shaped bodies which become engorged with blood when they feed, and eight legs. As well as having a hard shield on their dorsal surfaces, hard ticks have a beak-like structure at the front containing the mouthparts whereas soft ticks have their mouthparts on the underside of the body. Both families locate a potential host by odour or from changes in the environment.

Ticks have four stages to their life cycle, namely egg, larva, nymph, and adult. Ixodid ticks have three hosts, taking at least a year to complete their lifecycle. Argasid ticks have up to seven nymphal stages (instars), each one requiring a blood meal. Because of their habit of ingesting blood, ticks are vectors of at least twelve diseases that affect humans and other animals.

 

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