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Tick bites can cause life-threatening allergic reactions to red meat

Tick bite

(NaturalNews) For a growing number of people, it is no longer possible to eat any red meat because they have developed an allergy to it after being bitten by a tick.

And now, the UK's Daily Mail reports, experts are noting that not only can the condition turn deadly, but it is becoming more common in regions that are infested with the biting insects.

They also point out that those who suffer from a "tick-induced mammalian meat allergy" will not notice they have the allergy at first because its reaction only sets in between two and 10 hours after the meat is eaten. Some patients have been found to have been bitten as many as six months before the first reaction, The Guardian reported further.

The paper also said in online editions that the link between tick bites and meat allergies was initially identified and defined in 2007, and that it has since been confirmed around the world.

Severe reactions more common in Australia

While most tick bites occur without subsequent health issues, the immune systems of some people are more sensitive to proteins harbored in the saliva of the parasites, leaving them intolerant to red meat, and in some cases, red-meat derivatives like gelatin and dairy products. The same people, however, can tolerate eating poultry and seafood, though a number of sufferers have chosen to avoid meat altogether.

Cases of the emerging meat allergy have been reported in Asia, Central America, Europe and Africa, but it's more common and is on the rise in the United States and parts of Australia, since ticks are more pervasive there and host populations are growing, The Guardian noted.

The species of tick most identified with spreading the allergy in Australia is the paralytic tick, in places where bandicoots and other small native mammals flourish, mostly along the country's eastern seaboard.

Meanwhile, the tick most associated with the allergy in the U.S. is the Lone Star tick, which is widespread throughout the country. That said, meat allergies have mostly been reported in southeastern states where there are large and growing herds of white-tailed deer.

However, cases of anaphylaxis – a severe allergic reaction that can lead to death – caused by tick bites is most acute in Australia, especially around the northern beaches near Sydney, a common breeding ground for ticks. Experts say such reactions are as common there as allergic reactions to peanuts.

Meat allergies are very rare in adults who have not been bitten by either species of tick.

'I'm a tick refugee'

The meat allergies were first reported on in November 2007 by Sheryl van Nunen, a clinical immunology specialist at the Royal North Shore hospital in Sydney, who actually observed the association "some years before" she officially announced it. She now diagnoses one or two patients with the allergy each week.

Jana Pearce told The Guardian that when she developed her allergic reaction in May 2010, she got a "massive" rash and had to be hospitalized and revived with CPR.

"I'd never taken an antihistamine before in my life," she said. "I thought people who took antihistamines were wimps."

Initially, though she didn't take the diagnosis seriously, she did stop eating red meat. However, after she ate meat again in 2012, she had to be revived with a defibrillator. "The second one was where I was out of denial and into reality," she said, adding that she moved from her home near Sydney to Hobart, Tasmania, because there are fewer ticks there.

"I'm a tick refugee," she said.





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