Ticks may cause allergies to red meat, study finds

July 19, 2012 1:29:47 PM PDT
These parasites, ticks, live right here in our area.

Now researchers are finding that some ticks may cause an allergic reaction in certain people.

"We've never been aware of a tick giving rise to a form of allergy before," said Dr. Thomas Platts- Mills, an Allergist at the University of Virginia.

Dr. Platts Mills and his colleagues reportedly discovered the allergy. He says the reaction occurs after a person gets bitten by ticks and then eats red meat.

"Chicken doesn't do it, turkey doesn't do it, cod doesn't do it," says Dr. Platts-Mills. "But any mammals that we eat, is a problem."

It's thought that the body's reaction to a tick bite produces an antibody that binds to a specific sugar found in red meat.

In some people, that releases a chemical known as histamine, which causes symptoms like itching and hives, and if severe, difficulty breathing.

The challenge is figuring out the diagnose, as most people don't have symptoms for several hours after eating meat.

That could be because the fat in the meat slows the histamine's effects.

"We think it gets absorbed slowly," said Dr. Platts-Mills.

Keep in mind that not everyone will have this reaction, but it's still a mystery why some do and some don't

What we do know is the more tick bites you've had, the higher your risk of developing an allergy to red meat. With each bite, the level of those antibodies goes up, and you're more likely to react.



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