A new type of allergy is being found in many parts of the United States. It is called “alpha-gal.” It means you’re allergic to meat and any products derived from certain mammals.
CCN reports that an Australian doctor, Sheryl van Nunen, first discovered this ailment in 1987 when a patient came in who complained of waking up in the middle of the night in severe distress. Dr. Nunen tested him for common allergic reactions. Nothing caused any reaction. Then, she gave him a skin test for everything he could remember touching or eating in the previous 24 hours prior to a severe episode. It turned out, he was allergic to meat.
In America, the CNN report notes that the disease was discovered in North Carolina and Tennessee. In a test for a new drug called Cetuximab, one-third of the test subjects got severely ill from the drug and one patient died. It was not the drug that killed him, rather it was his allergic reaction to some of the ingredients that were derived from mammals.
After a great deal of medical detective research, the common denominator of all the patients who got ill was that they had been exposed to tick bites. Scientists then realized that along with Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, tick bites can cause an allergic reaction to meat.
This happens because some of the blood from the mammals that the ticks bite gets transferred to humans. The human body then creates an antibody to kill the invaders of impurities in the animal blood. Thereafter, with more exposure to the same allergen, the human body can react too strongly. This may cause an allergic reaction that can kill someone if it is severe enough.
So far, scientists discovered six varieties of ticks globally that carry this new disease. This is now found in Australia, Brazil, Cote d’Ivoire, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Panama, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and the US. The most common tick in America, which carries this disease, is the Lone Star tick. It’s easy to recognize because it has a single white spot on its back.
CNN says that Tami McGraw is an example of how bad this weird allergy can be. She cannot eat any meat of any mammals. Beef and pork are especially bad. She cannot have any dairy products. The smell of frying bacon makes her sick. She cannot wear anything made of wool or eat Jell-O. She avoids all of these things and more.
Her allergic reaction starts with a rash, then progresses to her throat closing up so she cannot breathe and this is combined with a dangerously high elevation of her blood pressure. She carries medicine with her at all times and an EpiPen for sudden emergency reactions that could otherwise kill her.
Now that you know the signs to watch out for, if you get a rash after eating a hamburger this may be the cause. You may need to think about whether you had any tick bites in the past and then tell your doctor about this.