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    Tick bite that causes red meat allergy spreading across U.S.

    The lone star tick, whose bite causes allergies to red meat, is spreading across more states, according to news reports.

    The immune systems of those bitten by the lone star tick are adjusted to react to a protein-linked saccharide found in red meat, the Huffington Post reports. The saccharide is galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose, also described as alpha-gal. The tick bites cause an increase in alpha-gal antibodies, causing immune systems to release histamines after a person eats red meat.

    Reports of allergies traced to the lone star tick bites occur most frequently in the southeastern U.S., but it has spread to areas such as Long Island, N.Y.; Hanover, N.H., and Duluth, Minn. It is unclear exactly how far the bites and related allergies have spread, because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do not require state health departments to report alpha-gal syndrome incidents. But researchers with the University of North Carolina and the University of Virginia are closely following news reports to help create an incidence map to track where it may be spreading.

    Reference:  Huffington Post, “Oh, Lovely: The Tick That Gives People Meat Allergies Is Spreading,” June 20, 2017 

    Sarah Thuerk
    Sarah Thuerk is associate editor of Healthcare Traveler magazine.

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