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Ticks can cause red meat allergy

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ARKABUTLA LAKE Lake, Miss. -- Charlotte White loves the outdoors and cooking out, but she can’t enjoy a lot of barbecuing like she used to.

”I have got to the point I can’t eat regular hamburger, ground beef, steaks. As much as everybody loves a good steak, I can’t eat ‘em.”

Why’s that? An expert from Mississippi State University says it’s likely due to a bite from the Lone Star Tick.

The tick carries a sugar similar to one found in meat, but its bite triggers an immune response that can trigger an allergy to red meat.

“People with a propensity for allergies are more likely to develop the red meat allergy,” Mississippi State University expert Jerome Goddard said.

He added, “The severity of the allergic reaction will also vary from person to person.”

You can find the Lone Star Tick in more than a quarter of the United States, from Iowa to Texas and from Mississippi to Maine, mostly in wooded areas with thick underbrush.

That’s why campers like James Newsom of Byhalia go the extra mile to keep pesky bugs away by spraying gallons of bug killer.

”I might make two circles around and I may use up to two jugs spraying at the time, but it seems like it’s keeping the varmints away.”

Even Charlotte White won’t go out without dousing herself in spray containing large amounts of DEET.

”After a while, you do develop a phobia of ever coming outside and scared that you’re gonna get a tick on you and you don’t want to go through that pain when you do get a tick.”

Because she doesn’t want to lose any more enjoyment of the outdoors.


  • Frances (Lessie) Bailey

    Actually study began in Virginia a few years ago. I went to Allergy Dr in Southaven and was tested for everything, I thought. They could not find a solution. I would wake up in the night with sick stomach, ears and palms of hands would start itching, run to the bathroom with diarrea (hives in intestines causing it) full blown hives within minutes, low blood pressure and several trips to ER with the reaction. Carried Epi Pen and used it twice. My daughter would do the same thing after eating ground beef. My uncle told me he did the same thing and his doctor told him about the red meat allergy, he stopped eating it and no longer has reactions. I have been hive free for about 2 years! The last attack was from eating meatloaf at a restuarant. So thankful my uncle told me about it.

  • Mary Bradford

    My uncle developed this condition a little over 10 years ago. It’s called Alpha-gal allergy. He basically cannot eat any red meat/mammal. The degrees of the allergy vary. If he eats any amount of red meat, he develops hives, vomiting, and severe stomach pain. When he developed this ten years ago, there wasn’t much study done on it. As far as we know, there is not a cure. He just avoids red meat, and he is fine.

  • Eunice Herron

    When I went to the Emergency Room, I thought the allergy might be linked to the tick bite. We actually took the tick with us. The doctor laughed and refused to even look at the tick. I had violent hive and difficulty breathing. It took three shots to get the reaction under control. Now, I have hives if I eat red meat. The medical community in Mississippi needs to be better informed!

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