There are plenty of excellent reasons to become a vegetarian. Being forced to because of a tick bite isn’t one of my top choices.
As Mother Network News reports in their post, “Can a Tick Bite Make You Vegetarian?“, recent medical studies have shown that even a single bite from the Lone Star tick can make people allergic to certain properties in red meat and those allergic reactions can be quite serious.
Allergy symptoms are usually more delayed than with other food-related allergies, sometimes not showing up for several days.
This is possibly because it takes so long for our bodies to digest red meat. The symptoms run the gamut of allergy signs and include stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, congestion, diarrhea, headaches, indigestion, asthma and sneezing.
This reaction is called the “alpha-gal” reaction and it’s the subject of a recently published study presented to the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).
Alpha-gal is a carbohydrate found in red meats like beef, lamb and pork. When a Lone Star tick bites, its saliva enters the victim’s body and antibodies to alpha-gal are present in the nasty little guy’s saliva.
Blood levels of antibodies for alpha-gal in the human body can rise after a single bite from the lone star tick,” said allergist Stanley Fineman, M.D., ACAAI president. “This can result in allergic symptoms which are usually delayed after meat ingestion and may present as mild hives but may also be a severe, potentially deadly reaction known as anaphylaxis.”
This makes avoiding tick bites even more important than we already knew it to be.
Although the Lone Star tick is mainly found in the south and south-central states, alpha-gal allergy is also showing up in the midwest and northern states, so other types of ticks may also cause the allergy.
We usually think of summer as tick season, but in temperate climates and places where fall is relatively mild, ticks can still be an issue.
It’s important to wear long pants and boots when trekking through the woods or any tall grass and to check your shoes, socks and pant legs before going back inside. Teach your kids how to avoid tick bites and also how to check themselves for any invasion from the little critters. Kids can sometimes get more severe symptoms of allergic reactions because of their size and metabolic rate.
I’d love it if everyone adopted a vegetarian lifestyle, but I don’t want a fear of serious allergic reactions to be the reason.