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Tick bites likely causing thousands to develop meat allergy

More than 110,000 cases of the allergy were reported from 2010 to 2022, but officials believe most cases go undiagnosed.
Tick bites likely causing thousands to develop meat allergy
Posted at 1:57 PM, Jul 28, 2023

More than 110,000 suspected cases of alpha-gal syndrome were identified from 2010 through 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Thursday.

But the CDC thinks the number of Americans impacted by alpha-gal syndrome could be about four times higher. That is because an estimated 78% of cases go undiagnosed. 

The disease is believed to be caused by ticks passing meat allergies to people through an enzyme found in lone star ticks' saliva. This enzyme can cause people to have an allergic reaction to red meats, gelatin and milk. 

Common symptoms include hives, nausea, swelling, shortness of breath and severe stomach pain. Symptoms generally occur within two to six hours after eating. 

SEE MORE: Ground beef tied to multi-state salmonella outbreak

“Alpha-gal syndrome is an important emerging public health problem, with potentially severe health impacts that can last a lifetime for some patients,” said Dr. Ann Carpenter, an epidemiologist with National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases Division of Vector-Borne Diseases. “It’s critical for clinicians to be aware of AGS so they can properly evaluate, diagnose and manage their patients and also educate them on tick-bite prevention to protect patients from developing this allergic condition.”

Another major concern is that the disease is not widely known among doctors. About half of 1,500 medical professionals surveyed said they were unfamiliar with it. 

Officials recommend avoiding wooded and bushy areas, treating your clothing with a specific insecticide, and checking your body after being outdoors to prevent tick bites. 

There is currently no cure for the syndrome, according to Cleveland Clinic.

Correction: A previous version of video referred to alpha-gal syndrome as ASG rather than AGS. This story has been updated.

@scrippsnews This meat allergy might be coming from a surprise source — tick bites. The CDC says as many as 450,000 people might have been affected by alpha-gal syndrome, which is a food allergy to red meat and dairy products. #health #allergy #ticks ♬ original sound - Scripps News

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