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New Research Connects Tick Bites to Red Meat Allergies

That tick bite you got last summer that caused a red rash on your arm and maybe even a big red target-like circle could be the cause of the puzzling meat allergy you seemed to have developed lately, MedicalXpress reports.


Although previous research had hinted that such an allergy could only develop if the tick had recently fed on another mammal with something called alfa-gal syndrome, this is the first time scientists have found it may be possible to get the allergy without the tick having had the previous exposure.

This rare food allergy is to a protein in red meat that may lead to GI symptoms, nausea, stuffy nose, hives, asthma or anaphylactic shock. When bitten by a tick, you react to something in the saliva of the tick that prompts your body to create antibodies against galactose-alpha-1, 3-galactose carbohydrate molecule.

This new link to tick bites and red meat allergies is a real concern, as ticks are widespread throughout the U.S., and their bites hold the potential to transmit many other serious diseases. For example, Lyme disease — which is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria spread through the bite of blacklegged ticks (also known as deer ticks) and western blacklegged ticks — is thought to affect more than 300,000 Americans annually.

There are more than two dozen tick-borne diseases in the U.S. that can be transmitted to humans, including Colorado tick fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent a tick bite, as well as to treat one if you happen to be bitten. While antibiotics are the first choice treatment that doctors give you after you’re bitten or when you’re diagnosed with Lyme, these drugs often are ineffective and, if you are infected with Lyme disease, you will require further, possibly very intense, medical treatment.

To offset these concerns, you may want to try natural treatment strategies first, such as the "Cowden Protocol," the Nutramedix line of herbal antimicrobials that rotates various herbal antimicrobials, so you don't have to worry about bacteria developing resistance to the antibiotic you’ve been prescribed.

You might also try lumbrokinase, which has been used successfully to break down biofilms associated with Lyme disease.

The best treatment, however, is prevention. When you go outside and you know you’re going to be in tick-infested areas, be sure to wear long sleeves and pants with cuffs that have been tightened around your ankles, to prevent the critters from crawling up your legs. Tuck your shirt into your pants and wear enclosed shoes.

Then, try to avoid contact with soil, leaf litter and vegetation. Don’t sit directly on the ground or on stone walls, and stay on cleared well-traveled trails.

Once indoors, do a full-body tick check, taking care to check harder-to-spot areas such as hair, behind your knees and between your legs. If you find a tick attached to your skin, use a pair of tweezers to remove it. Grasp the tick as close to your skin's surface as possible, then pull it straight out (do not twist it or jerk it out).

If mouth parts are left in your skin that cannot be removed, leave them alone and the skin will heal on its own. Be sure to wash the area and your hands thoroughly with soap and water once removed.