Authored by Jack Phillips via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that red meat allergies caused by certain types of ticks is an “emerging public health concern” after two studies found that the phenomenon is on the rise.
Alpha-gal syndrome, or AGS, is a serious and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that comes after people eat red meat or consume products that have alpha-gal, a type of sugar found in most mammals, according to the CDC.
The syndrome is caused by the lone star tick, which can transfer alpha-gal into an individual’s body. As a result, the body can develop an immune system response to the sugar whenever one consumes it.
The lone star tick, or Amblyomma americanum, can be found across the southeastern and eastern United States as well as Mexico and parts of Canada. The tick has a single spot on its back, earning it the “lone star” name. It’s also known as the northeastern water tick or the turkey tick.
Unlike deer ticks, the lone star tick has a smaller chance of transmitting Lyme disease. However, it can transmit a range of other diseases to people such as monocytotropic ehrlichiosis, tularemia, and southern tick-associated rash illness. There have also been reports that it is a vector the heartland virus.
The tick generally lives in wooded areas, namely where white-tailed deer reside. It can also be found in areas between grassy and forested ecosystems, using thick underbrush or high grass to attach to its victim—like the deer tick or other ticks.
“The number of suspected AGS cases in the United States has increased substantially since 2010, and states with established populations of lone star ticks are most affected, although suspected AGS cases were also identified in areas outside of this tick’s range,” the CDC said in a report this week.
As for the AGS meat allergy, it can manifest as anaphylaxis—or a life-threatening allergic reaction characterized by a sudden constriction of airways and a drop in blood pressure, according to the National Institutes of Health. Researchers say that unlike allergic reactions to other foods, which are generally immediate, AGS reactions can occur three to six hours after eating red meat.
AGS symptoms can include a rash, hives, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, shortness of breath, stomach pain, and heartburn. Symptoms can be mild to severe, officials have said.
“The burden of alpha-gal syndrome in the United States could be substantial given the large percentage of cases suspected to be going undiagnosed due to non-specific and inconsistent symptoms, challenges seeking healthcare, and lack of clinician awareness,” Dr. Johanna Salzer, an author with two CDC studies, said in a statement. “It’s important that people who think they may suffer from AGS see their healthcare provider or an allergist, provide a detailed history of symptoms, get a physical examination, and a blood test that looks for specific antibodies (proteins made by your immune system) to alpha-gal.”
Between 2010 and 2022, about 110,000 cases of AGS have been officially identified, it said. But the actual number of AGS cases in those 12 years or so might be as high as 450,000, said the CDC.
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