Strange meat allergies triggered by ticks, continues to spread.
JUNE 23, 2017
First comes the unscratchable itching, and the angry blossoming of hives. Then stomach cramping, and—for the unluckiest few—difficulty breathing, passing out, and even death. In the last decade and a half, thousands of previously protein-loving Americans have developed a dangerous allergy to meat. And they all have one thing in common: the lone star tick. Red meat, you might be surprised to know, isn’t totally sugar-free.
It contains a few protein-linked saccharides, including one called galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose, or alpha-gal, for short. More and more people are learning this the hard way, when they suddenly develop a life-threatening allergy to that pesky sugar molecule after a tick bite. Yep, one bite from the lone star tick—which gets its name from the Texas-shaped splash of white on its back—is enough to eprogram your immune system to forever reject even the smallest nibble of perfectly crisped bacon.