It seems as though every aspect of our lives can become altered by the dangers associated with mosquitoes and ticks. From West Nile virus, causing heartworms in our furry friends and tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme Disease that can completely change our way of life — taking it all in can be overwhelming. Now, to add to the already long list of ailments ticks can cause, they have now been linked to causing allergies to red meat.
According to an article by Science Daily; “Lone Star tick bites are likely the cause of thousands of cases of severe red meat allergies that are plaguing patients in Southeastern United States including Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia and spreading up the Eastern Seaboard along with the deer population. The allergy can cause hives and swelling, as well as broader symptoms of anaphylaxis including vomiting, diarrhea, trouble breathing, and a drop in blood pressure. Persons with the allergy can go into a delayed anaphylactic shock four-six hours after eating red meat.”
This news comes as a shock to Marylanders as enjoying a hamburger at the backyard barbecue or treating yourself to a steak dinner takes on a whole new meaning during tick season, and especially in areas where the Lone Star tick is prevalent. Although researchers have yet to understand exactly the logistics of the problem, it is believed the Lone Star tick has the alpha-gal sugar in its gut and introduces it as part of the allergic bite and that causes the production of the allergy antibody that then cross-reacts to the meat. Alpha-gal patients can safely eat poultry such as chicken or turkey but red meats such as beef and pork, and even game like venison, will cause a reaction. Some patients may react to milk, even in relatively small amounts.
The Lone star tick, Amblyoma americanum, is widespread in the US, including Maryland and thrives in wooded areas. In addition to causing a possible red meat allergy this tick is a known carrier of Tularemia, occasionally Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and possibly Lyme disease. The unfed adult female tick is about 1/8 of an inch long, reddish-brown, with a whitish spot in the middle of its back. A fully engorged female can reach a size of 7/16 of an inch long and 3/8 of an inch wide.
The best way to avoid falling prey to this newly discovered allergy, and other tick-borne illness and disease, is to prevent coming into contact with the Lone Star tick and reduce the chance of being bitten and infected. In addition to exercising common sense practices when venturing into unprotected wooded areas, it is also important to keep your property protected as well.
We specialize in a dual tick prevention and control program that targets ticks during each stage of development. Our barrier spray will eliminate adult ticks on contact while tick tubes are placed in key areas on your property, twice a season, to eliminate ticks at their nymph stage. Tick tubes can dramatically decrease the chance of encountering a tick on your property.
Contact Mosquito Squad of Howard County & Montgomery County Maryland to learn more about protecting you and your family from ticks and the illness’ they carry! You can reach us by phone at (301) 926-3001, or via email at montgomery-county.mosquitosquad.com