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  • Dr. Sherry Barnett

The Rare"Red Meat Allergy"

You may have heard in the news about “red meat allergy” that has been recognized in the last few years. We all know that ticks can transmit nasty things like Lyme disease and Rocky mountain spotted fever but now the new concern is about tick bites causing reactions to red meat.

One kind of tick in particular, the Lone Star Tick, which is found in the south and central US, transfers a specific carbohydrate or sugar molecule called “alpha gal” into the bloodstream. This triggers the immune system to start making allergic antibodies to that sugar structure.

When a sensitized person eats meat like beef, pork or even venison, he or she can have an allergic reaction that is typically delayed more than 3 hours. Most allergic reactions to foods happen in minutes so this makes Alpha gal allergy quite distinct.

So what’s the good news? This allergy is quite rare and if you haven’t been bit by a Lone Star tick, you have nothing to worry about.


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