A bad tick year just got a whole lot worse after hearing that a particular tick, whose bite makes people allergic to meat, is spreading.
The lone star tick (earning its name from the distinct white marking on its back) carries a sugar molecule called alpha-1, 3-galactose, or Alpha-Gal for short, which basically scrambles people’s immune systems, making them forever allergic to meat.
How is this strange phenomenon happening? Well, without getting too much into the scientific details, basically Alpha-Gal is one of the few sugars found in red meat. When bitten by a tick whose carrying Alpha-Gal, your body automatically attempts to develop an antibody to fight it off. From that point forward, consuming any red meat will trigger an allergic reaction, which can include, hives, shortness of breath, stomach cramps and in some severe cases difficulty breathing and fainting. In the rarest cases, death can occur.
According to reports, the tick is commonly found in the southeastern United States, but cases have recently been reported in Minnesota, and New Hampshire, which suggests the terrifying thought that the lone star tick population and habitat is growing.