Ticks are coming out in full force this summer, and there’s one species that may be a meat lover's worst nightmare.
The lone star tick, which can trigger a life-threatening red meat allergy with just one bite, is spreading from its home base in the southeastern United States, scientists say.
The tick bite can trigger an allergy that makes people allergic to a sugar molecule found in red meat known as alpha-gal.
Not everyone bitten may develop the allergy, but for those who do, it can be severe. Symptoms can range from hives and stomach pain to shortness of breath and even death, according to a Business Insider report.
Since an allergic reaction can occur hours after the initial bite, the symptoms may be misdiagnosed.
“The weird thing about [this reaction] is it can occur within three to 10 or 12 hours, so patients have no idea what prompted their allergic reactions,” Dr. Ronald Saff, an allergist and assistant clinical professor of medicine at Florida State told the publication.
Although the lone star tick is most commonly found in the Southeast, more cases have popped up in the Midwest and along the East Coast. Within the past year, there have been outbreaks in places like Minnesota, New Hampshire and Long Island.
Researchers are now trying to figure out if other species of ticks are also causing the allergy, or if the lone star is the only potential carrier.
Currently there isn’t a known cure for the alpha-gal allergy, meaning those affected may have to drastically change their diets.
To help prevent the bite, the CDC recommends using a repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET or IR3D35.
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