A new, potentially severe allergic reaction to red meat is being detected in people bitten by the Lone Star Tick. Delayed anaphylaxis–a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction– to meat is a new syndrome identified initially in the southeastern United States. Patients may wake up in the middle of the night with hives or anaphylaxis usually three to six hours after having eaten red meat for dinner. Until recently, the link between red meat ingestion and anaphylaxis had remained elusive. But now ,researchers Susan Wolver and Diane Sun have discovered a compound found in mammalian tissues that causes dilatation of capillaries that is released during allergic reactions.
Their analysis of three patient cases reveals that this reaction may be caused by antibodies to a carbohydrate that is produced in a patient’s blood in response to a tick bite, specifically the Lone Star tick. This carbohydrate substance is also present in meat. When an individual who has been bitten by a tick eats the meat, his or her immune system activates the release of histamine in response to the presence of alpha-gal, which can cause hives and anaphylaxis.
According to Wolver and 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."
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