Can Tick Bites Trigger Allergies to Red Meat?| Updated: Nov 20, 2018
I have been at a complete loss to explain to folks why they might be allergic to red meat. I have generally considered it to be yet another symptom of the rampant and worsening gut imbalance problems people subsisting on modern foods and pharmaceuticals suffer from and have advised looking into healing and sealing their gut wall a la the GAPS or SCD protocol with their holistic health practitioner.
Now, there appears to be at least one possible explanation: tick bites.
The Journal of General Internal Medicine has published an article by Susan Wolver, MD, and Diane Sun, MD of Virginia Commonwealth University which identifies the rising trend of red meat allergies which first appeared in the Southeastern United States.
Dr. Wolver and Dr. Sun stumbled upon this connection by analyzing the case histories of three patients. People with an allergy to red meat, a very new syndrome, wake up in the middle of the night about 3-6 hours after eating red meat for dinner with hives or worse, a severe, life threatening condition known as delayed anaphylaxis.
The reaction is thought to be caused by antibodies to a carbohydrate known as alpha-gal.
A patient produces these carbohydrate antibodies after sustaining a tick bite, most probably a Lone Star tick. This same carbohydrate is in all red meat – pork, venison, beef, and lamb. When the allergic individual consumes these foods, the immune system releases histamine in response to the ingestion of the carbohydrate alpha-gal which is the cause of the hives or anaphylaxis.
Most worrisome, anaphylaxis triggered by red meat appears to be the very first life threatening allergic reaction due to consumption of a carbohydrate rather than a protein. What’s more, this is the first anaphylaxis that occurs hours after exposure rather than immediately upon contact or ingestion.
Could more carbohydrate induced anaphylaxis be on the way?
The conclusions of Dr. Wolver and Dr. Sun:
“Where ticks are endemic, for example in the southeastern United States, clinicians should be aware of this new syndrome when presented with a case of anaphylaxis. Current guidance is to counsel patients to avoid all mammalian meat – beef, pork, lamb and venison.”
The list of foods that potentially must be avoided by allergic individuals just continues to grow and grow. How much longer will it get before conventional circles recognize the health effects that an overreactive immune system many times triggered by severe gut imbalance plays in food intolerance?
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Source: Carnivores: Beware of Ticks
Sarah Pope has been a Health and Nutrition Educator since 2002. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Weston A. Price Foundation.
Sarah was awarded Activist of the Year at the International Wise Traditions Conference in 2010.
Sarah earned a Bachelor of Arts (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in Economics from Furman University and a Master’s degree in Government (Financial Management) from the University of Pennsylvania.
Mother to three healthy children, blogger, and best-selling author, she writes about the practical application of Traditional Diet and evidence-based wellness within the modern household. Her work has been featured by USA Today, The New York Times, National Review, ABC, NBC, and many others.