A meat allergy caused by a tick bite is rare. In fact, there's only 1,500 cases of it in the U.S. Once this specific tick bites someone, they can no longer eat meat from mammals like beef, pork, deer, elk and lamb. An anaphylaxis reaction occurs four to eight hours after eating meat.
The allergy, called Alpha-gal, is a carbohydrate that is in almost all mammals, besides human beings and apes. Doctors didn't discover it until 2009.
The tick is not in the Northstate, but it's in states like Arkansas and Texas.
Allergist Dr. Ronald Renard at Redding Allergy has seen two cases of it here.
"People in the United States are so mobile these days that it's not uncommon for them to live in another part of the country and move here. The most recent case I saw, the person had become sensitized from living in the southeast part of the U.S. (Arkansas) and that's probably where that person became sensitized," said Dr. Renard.
Right now there's no cure besides avoiding meat. Those with the allergy can still eat chicken, turkey and fish. The alpha-gal carbohydrate is also found in some drugs that treat certain kinds of cancer.
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