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Bite of the Lone Star tick could turn some people into vegetarians

A Close Up Of An Adult Female Deer Tick, Dog Tick, And A Lone Star Tick
Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images

While news of increasing illnesses transmitted by mosquitoes including West Nile Virus, Malaria, Chiungunya and Dengue fever, etc. seem to dominate the news these days, researchers have come up with the strange revelation that bites from the Lone Star tick may be responsible for a growing number of allergies to meat throughout the south and eastern part of the United States. A similar problem has also been seen in such countries as France, Germany, Sweden, Spain, Korea and Japan, as well as Australia during the past few years, although scientists were have been slow to recognize the cause.

According to D. Erin McGintee, an allergist on Long Island, who claims to have seen at least 200 cases (nearly three dozen in children) of the strange phenomena, “Why would anyone think they have suddenly become allergic to meat when they have been eating it their whole lives? It is bizarre, and goes against almost anything I've ever learned as an allergist," she stated.

Among the symptoms reported, however, have been headaches and tongue swelling within a few hours after having hamburgers and other red meat dishes as well as pork, venison, rabbit, and even some dairy products, caused after a tick bite triggers a response to a sugar contained in them called alphagal. According to medical experts, that same sugar is harbored within the ticks, and when they bite someone they trigger a reaction by the body to create antibodies to fight the “toxin” as it penetrates their skin and bloodstream. This, however, only adds to the strangeness of the reaction, since most food allergies are triggered by proteins, rather than carbohydrates.

While antihistimine can be helpful to relieve any itching, more severe cases have called for epinephrine shots, and many victims have resorted to carrying extra doses with them in case of further reactions. It is not known however whether the allergy will prove to be long-lasting or even permanent at this time.