Many people love to dig their teeth into a nice juicy steak, delightfully cut piece of venison, or other mammalian meat source. It is a common staple in many people’s daily lives. Sadly, some people have developed an uncommon allergy to various meats that have baffled and confused doctors and scientists.
According to KTVQ.com on June 21, 2012, there may be an answer for the strange allergy that is afflicting some American’s. Known as Galatose-alpha-1, 2-galactose or alpha-gal for short, there are about 1,500 American’s who have been afflicted with the strange meat allergy. Because it is such an odd allergy, it is suspected that there are many more people who have the allergy in the US.
Allergists at the University of Virginia have discovered that people who have had at least one tick bite from the Lone Star Tick could develop the allergic reaction when they eat certain meat sources. The alpha-gal allergy occurs when bunches of sugars become trapped in the blood after a tick bite. Once meat is consumed, mild to severe anaphylaxis can occur. The strange thing about the anaphylaxis is that it can occur hours, days, or even years after the meat is consumed.
This allergy is not considered to be a disease that is transmitted like Lyme disease from the deer tick. Doctors believe that the allergy could be related to bites received from baby ticks or tick larvae. Studies are being conducted to see if there is an organism in the tick’s saliva that is transmitted that will make a person allergic to the alpha-gal sugar in mammalian meat. Most food allergies occur as a result to reactions in response to a protein antigen rather than a sugar, so the alpha-gal is considered to be unique.