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lone star tick Gerald Holmes, Cal Poly,
LONE STAR TICK: The Lone Star tick has been found from Texas to Iowa, and in the New England states. It has been linked to an allergy to beef and pork and also a deadly virus called Bourbon virus.

Yes, there is such a thing as an allergy to meat

The Lone Star tick is to blame for an allergy and a deadly virus.

Crispy bacon, juice-dripping cheeseburgers, stuffed pork chops and rib-eyes medium-rare and grill-seared — just a few of this carnivore’s lip-licking favorites.

It’s hard to imagine not being able to indulge in all this goodness. It’s one thing if you make the conscious choice to give it up, but to salivate over it and not be able to partake because it could kill you is a whole different scenario.

Yes, you read that right. If we eat these meaty indulgences, turns out there’s a critter called the Lone Star tick whose bite may bring severe consequences.

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, a bite from a Lone Star tick could lead to an allergy to beef and pork.

The allergy is called alpha-gal syndrome. Alpha-gal is a type of sugar found in red meat.

At first I thought this was some kind of hoax being peddled through the web by some organization like The Humane Society of the United States, which wants to make us all vegan.

But, turns out, it is the real deal. In the journal Oxford Medical Case Reports, an article written by W. Landon Jackson titled “Mammalian meat allergy following a tick bite: a case report,” says, “Abstinence from mammalian meat products is currently the only method for preventing alpha-gal allergy symptoms.”

Luckily, this hostile hitchhiker is found predominantly from Texas to Iowa, and into New England.

Allergy getting more prevalent

The report says the prevalence of this allergy is drastically increasing. Severe reactions include anaphylactic shock, yet many patients experience symptoms for years before a diagnosis is made.

It’s to be taken seriously. Reactions can cause life-threatening symptoms, like trouble breathing or low blood pressure. Other symptoms may include:

• abdominal cramping
• swelling of the throat, lips and tongue
• weakness
• nausea and vomiting
• headaches
• skin rashes

And that’s not all. Researchers have now linked the Lone Star tick to the spread of a deadly virus: the Bourbon virus. Jeez, does that mean those infected have to give up bourbon, too? Short answer is no. It was first identified in 2014 in a middle-aged man living in Bourbon County, Kan. He was previously healthy, but later complained of having flu-like symptoms. He also had a history of tick bites. Antibiotics didn’t work, and the virus eventually killed him. Three years later, it killed a woman in Missouri.

Scientists know little about how the Bourbon virus behaves, but they believe it is a cousin of the influenza virus.

No Lone Star ticks have been reported in Michigan or Ohio. But throughout the U.S. we have infected black-legged (deer) ticks. Through their bite they have passed along Lyme disease to humans, which causes flu-like symptoms.

Tick season is here, and they’re out en masse. My children have plucked several from my grand-pups already. Protect your pets, your children and yourself with clothing and sprays.

Ticks are most active from April through October. While they can be anywhere, they particularly like wet, wooded environments. Be sure to check yourself and your pets over after being outside.

I love that Texas eagerly shares its exceptional barbecue, live music and big hats, but I wish it would have just kept its Lone Star tick at home. Let’s hope it’s not well-traveled. And heaven forbid, organizations working anti-meat, vegan agendas don’t figure out how to make this allergy airborne.

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