There are all kinds of bug and insect bites that leave us scratching and uncomfortable, but what about one that can make you allergic to red meat? It turns out that a tick bite could be all it takes to wipe an entire food out of your diet once and for all – and scientists still don’t know why.
The Tick In Question
The tick responsible for the sudden allergy is the lone star tick. It’s found across Mexico and many of the eastern United States. However, it needs to feed on blood from wild turkeys, small mammals, white-tailed deer, and humans at each stage of its life cycle.
This tick bite typically isn’t painful, and many people never notice they have been bitten unless they develop a bacterial infection called ehrlichiosis. If people are allergic to red meat, they might not experience the symptoms until three to eight hours after their meal.
Creating A Study
Sadly, for some people, this tick bite can also leave them allergic to dairy, lamb, pork, and beef, but they can eat fish and chicken. Researchers decided to modify mice, so they were alpha-gal deficient. This is because it seems to be a reaction to alpha-gal in the gut that causes the allergy.
The researchers found that the reaction to alpha-gal came from a unique form of B cells – a type of immune cell. However, they are still no closer to learning what it is in the tick bite that makes some people react this way, or how to create a cure for the allergy.
While they might still need to do a lot of research, the researchers hope that identifying aspects of the tick bite and its effects could lead to a definite result. They hope to soon learn how to prevent the reaction altogether.