Alpha Gal and Meat Allergy

Lone Star Tick

Alpha Gal – (galactose-α-1,3-galactose) is a sugar molecule found in most mammals, but not humans.  The Lone Star Tick can transmit this sugar molecule to people, which can cause the immune system to react when eating meat products.  

The body’s immune reaction to eating meat can be:

  • eczema-like skin reactions including hives, itching, or scaly skin.
  • Swelling of lips, face, tongue, and throat.
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath. Runny nose.
  • Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. Headaches.

In severe sases anaphylaxis can occur which leads to a potentially deadly allergic reaction with restricted breathing.

  • Constriction of airways
  • Swelling of throat
  • Severe drop in blood pressure
  • Rapid pulse
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, loss of consciousness

These reactions may be delayed from the time of a tick bite to when symptoms appear. This is due to the fact that alpha-gal molecules take longer than other allergens to be digested and entered into the circulatory system.

Prevention and Treatment:

There is no cure for this Alpha-Gal syndrome, therefore prevention is the main protectant against this syndrome.  Avoiding meat if infected is crucial after known infection, and the severity of the immune reaction can diminish over time, and can go away in some infected individuals.

5 things people get wrong about Ticks and Lyme Disease

1. Ticks jump, fly or drop off trees – FALSE

Ticks wait at the end of a blade of grass, leaf or branch and grab a meal from anything or anyone that passes by.

 

2. A rash has to form around the tick bite if there is an infection – FALSE

A rash only forms about 50% with initial Lyme Disease Infection.

 

3. Ticks have to be attached for more than 24 hours to transmit an infection – FALSE

Ticks DO NOT have to be attached for 24 hours or more to transmit infection. There are many factors that determine how long a tick needs to be attached to transmit infection:
           – The location of the bite:
          softer skin areas may allow for a faster transmission – inner thighs, armpit, behind ears
           – The relative “strength” or health of the tick, and the type of tick
           – Different bacteria or viruses are transmitted at different rates

 

4. Ticks are only active when it’s warm – FALSE

Ticks can be active and survive in colder temperatures.Though they are less active, ticks are around, and can cause infection even in winter months.

 

5. Ticks are only in the woods and grasses – FALSE

Ticks can be carried by rodents, birds and other animals to virtually anywhere.Ticks are found even in urban centers, such as New York City.

White Footed Mice & Lyme disease

White-footed mice are the primary reservoir for Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.  Ticks, in the larvae stage, most commonly have their first blood meal from the white-footed mouse.  Once a tick has fed on an infected mouse, the tick can then carry the bacteria and infect people or pets, causing disease.

The abundance of mice and other rodents in and around homes brings the danger of being bitten by an infected tick right to our doorstep.  Even in more urban areas, ticks can be a danger due to the prevalence of rodents. 

The importance of controlling the rodent population around our homes is vital to preventing Lyme disease.

Alpha Gal and Allergy to Meat!

Alpha Gal

Alpha Gal – (galactose-α-1,3-galactose) is a sugar molecule found in most mammals, but not humans.  The Lone Star Tick can transmit this sugar molecule to people, which can cause the immune system to react when eating meat products.  

The body’s immune reaction to eating meat can be:

  • eczema-like skin reactions including hives, itching, or scaly skin.
  • Swelling of lips, face, tongue, and throat.
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath. Runny nose.
  • Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. Headaches.

In severe sases anaphylaxis can occur which leads to a potentially deadly allergic reaction with restricted breathing.

  • Constriction of airways
  • Swelling of throat
  • Severe drop in blood pressure
  • Rapid pulse
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, loss of consciousness

These reactions may be delayed from the time of a tick bite to when symptoms appear. This is due to the fact that alpha-gal molecules take longer than other allergens to be digested and entered into the circulatory system.

Prevention and Treatment:

There is no cure for this Alpha-Gal syndrome, therefore prevention is the main protectant against this syndrome.  Avoiding meat if infected is crucial after known infection, and the severity of the immune reaction can diminish over time, and can go away in some infected individuals.

 

Bullseye Rash

Typical Bullseye Rash

A bulls-eye rash (erythema migrans), often referred to as EM rash, can occur at the site of a tick bite anywhere from 2 to 30 days after the bite.

If you have a bulls-eye rash, anywhere on your body,

You Have Lyme Disease, and treatment should start immediately.

In addition, the rash may not look like a typical bulls-eye rash and may be in an area on your body that you can’t see; an atypical rash, if you have one, will usually occur  around the place you were bitten and will often expand over time.

 

Atypical erythema migrans