Health

One Bite From This Tick And You Could Become Allergic To Meat

Ticks are on the rise this summer, and it seems every week there's a new illness that stems from a tick bite. We've already shown you how you can reduce your chance of being bitten, what can happen if tick bites go untreated, and how to safely remove a tick if you do get infested with one.

This new type of tick spreading across the country, however, has some extremely serious side effects. The Lone Star tick, named for the Texas-shaped marking on its back, can permanently change your immune system and make you allergic to meat.

The Lone Star tick can potentially be a carrier for Alpha-Gal, a sugar molecule that causes the meat allergy. It essentially rewires your entire immune system.

According to Cosby Stone, an immunology fellow at Vanderbilt University, says Alpha-Gal gets spread if the tick that bites you has eaten cow or mammal blood before coming for you.

"The tick, carrying Alpha-Gal, bites you and activates your allergy immune system," Stone says. Your body then ends up producing anti-bodies to fight the allergen. However, when you go to eat meat after being bitten, your body will have an allergic reaction.

"There's a time delay in the reaction," said Stone. "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 some cases, it can be much worse than some bathroom troubles.

"Some patients have had to be given life support because their blood pressure is so low that they're in eminent danger of dying," says Stone.

Click through to find out if there's treatment for this Alpha-Gal reaction, and what researchers believe is to blame for the rise in tick-related diseases.

Currently, there's no cure for these side effects, though there are treatments.

As for growing popularity, Stone thinks the general rise in allergies is partially to blame.

"The awareness of Alpha-Gal has grown," noted Stone. "It's also possible that because allergies in general are going up, reactions to Alpha-Gal are increasing."

Another reason, Stone believes, is that we have advanced so much with daily hygiene, that our bodies haven't developed the natural immunity we use to fight allergies.

Warm weather and general climate change could also be to blame.

Though these Lone Star ticks were originally found in the southeastern United States, cases of Alpha-Gal have also appeared in Minnesota and Long Island, New York.

Share to make sure everyone is aware of the potential risk!