Discovering a tick burrowing within your skin is obviously a frightening experience. This scenario causes people to freak out because it is not immediately clear if a burrowing tick has already passed on Lyme bacteria to a human host. The symptoms of Lyme disease can be unbearable for sufferers, and the disease stays with its victims for life. That sounds bad enough, but new research has revealed a whole new reason to fear ticks. According to researchers, the lone star tick is now spreading throughout the Midwest and the northeast United States. This tick causes its victims to become allergic to meat in many cases. But how could a tick cause an allergy?
After a lone star tick finds its way onto a human host, the tick will release chemicals that can alter a victim’s immune system. The lone star tick carries a sugar molecule that is known as alpha-1, 3-galactose (Alpha-Gal). Once this molecule finds its way into a victim’s circulatory system, it will begin to reprogram the victim’s immune system. This molecular invasion eventually results with the bite victim developing an allergy to meat that lasts until death.
When a person sustains a bite from a lone star tick their immune systems produce antibodies that fight the Alpha-Gal molecule. Once this occurs, a person’s body will forever fight the sugar molecule that is naturally present in red meat. When a person’s immune system attempts to destroy the sugar molecule, an allergic response will take place. This means that some victims of lone star tick bites will never be able to consume meat again without suffering an allergic reaction.
This condition is known as Alpha-Gal allergy syndrome, and its symptoms include stomach cramps, hives, shortness of breath, and in some cases respiratory depression. Typically, this tick is found only in southern and eastern states, but lately cases of Alpha-Gal allergy syndrome have been reported as far north as Duluth, Minnesota, and Long Island, New York, which suggests that the lone star tick’s habitat is expanding.
Had you ever found a lone star tick on your body? If you have, then where did you acquire it?