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Red Meat Allergy Likely Caused by Tick Bites

A few years ago, doctors in the southern United States started noticing an odd phenomenon: people were becoming allergic to red meat, seemingly out of the blue. What in the environment was causing this response? The answer, surprisingly, turned out to be ticks.

The researchers who figured this out came upon the explanation serendipitously. Thomas Platts-Mills and his colleagues had been studying a cancer drug called Erbitux that was causing severe allergic reactions in patients – but only in southern states. The team had concluded that these people were carrying an antibody that responded to sugars in the drug.

In their findings – published in 2008 – the researchers noted that the sugars in Erbitux, which is derived from mouse cells, are also present in beef, pork and cow milk.

So the following year when it came to light that otherwise healthy people were developing meat allergies – also in the South – the team began testing samples of their blood and found that they possessed the same Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies as the cancer patients who had reacted to Erbitux.

Since people were reporting a 3-5 hour delay between ingesting meat and having a reaction, scientists guessed that the sugars triggering the response were stored in the fat of the animal, which takes longer to digest than protein or carbohydrates. That would explain why the reaction wasn’t immediate like most other food allergies.

But the big mystery remained: Where were these antibodies for alpha-gal (the sugars found in Erbitux and red meat) coming from?

“We thought initially that it was a parasite,” says Dr. Scott Commins, an assistant professor of medicine at UVA working on the project under Platts-Mills. “So we screened for all kinds of crazy parasites.”

Then, in August of 2009, the answer quite literally came to Platts-Mills when his own IgE to alpha-gal levels suddenly spiked days after he was bitten repeatedly by ticks while on a hike in the woods.

Out of curiosity, the researchers began asking patients if they had been bitten by ticks before their meat allergy developed.

“Once we opened up that line of questioning, it just blew up on us,” Commins told Food Safety News.

Of the over 1,500 people who have now reported meat allergies to the researchers, at least 90 percent say they were bitten by ticks in the weeks preceding their allergic reaction, he says.

While cases are mostly concentrated in the South in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, allergy clusters have also cropped up in Pennsylvania and the East Hamptons in New York, says Commins.

The challenge the team faces now is figuring out why this tick – called the “lone star tick” because of a small white mark on its back – is producing an immune response to alpha-gal in humans.

“That’s what we have left to do,” says Commins. “What is it about the tick? Is it a new organism in the tick saliva that is inducing this response?”

Or is it something these ticks have always carried, but meat allergies are only being detected now because there are more of these ticks out there?

These are both theories being considered, he says.

In the meantime, more cases continue to flood in.

“Today alone I’m looking at 25 emails from people across the country and yesterday there were in order of 50,” Commins reported during Friday’s interview.

After just 15 minutes of talking with Food Safety News, Commins received 2 more e-mails. One man reported developing a beef allergy 5 years ago, and said he doesn’t react well to tick bites and they take a long time to heal.

“We hear that all the time,” says Commins. A lingering bite is one of the signs that a person may have been bitten by an allergy-causing tick, he explains.

The bite also becomes itchy and a hard knot forms under that part of the skin.

So for those wondering if they may have an allergy-causing bite from a lone star tick, “I tend to say if the bite hangs around for 2-3 weeks and it’s itchy then I would get tested.

Is there anything you can do once you’ve been bitten to avoid developing a meat allergy?

Unfortunately, says Commins, the answer is no. “My sense is the bite itself is enough to cause the allergy to happen. They don’t have to be attached for very long at all.”

The good news for those who develop the allergy is that it seems to go away in 3-5 years, says Commins. The bad news is if you’re bitten again, the allergy could be more severe and long-lasting.

The government has not yet issued any health warnings about meat allergies associated with the lone star tick. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s lone star tick information page lists only southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI) as a potential health consequence.

© Food Safety News
  • Steve

    What form does the meat allergy take? This is not included in the story.

  • sam

    ….this is obviously a tick-breeding conspiracy by the “other white meat” industries to gain market share………… :-) )

  • http://www.foodsafetynews.com ggoetz

    Hi Steve,
    According to Dr. Commins, reactions can appear as anything from hives and itching to GI distress to shortness of breath with wheezing to dizziness and a drop in blood pressure. Symptoms can be a combination of these or predominantly one set of symptoms, i.e. only difficulty breathing and wheezing. Reactions vary widely from individual to individual.
    Thanks for your question.
    Gretchen

  • http://www.foodsafetynews.com Gretchen Goetz

    Hi Steve,
    According to Dr. Commins, reactions can appear as anything from hives and itching to GI distress to shortness of breath with wheezing to dizziness and a drop in blood pressure. Symptoms can be a combination of these or predominantly one set of symptoms, i.e. only difficulty breathing and wheezing. Reactions vary widely from individual to individual.
    Thanks for your question.
    Gretchen

  • Lou

    I have developed a red meat allergy over the last year. It took forever to figure out that it was the meat that was causing this because of the delay in reaction, usually 3-4 hours. It looks like this is probablly the cause. Everything I have read in the last week says that it is lasting allergy but this states it may go away after 3-5 years. I would really like to know!

  • Troy M

    I developed an allergy to beef 5 yrs ago this Sept.My severe reaction took place after having a steak dinner,some 5 hrs later I had a severe case of hives. Normally if I had hives I could take benedryl and they would disappear within minutes. The next morning I had a goose egg on the side of my head, a large welt across my ribcage and my feet were too swollen to wear shoes. After going to acute care for a shot, I went to an allergist and blood work came back positive for lethal beef allergy. I grew up in a family where beef was the staple in most all meals. This has been a life altering event. You don’t realize until you take away a primary food from your diet.

  • Janice Smith

    I had never heard of a “red meat allergy” until I saw an allergist for a severe allergic reaction March of 2012. Google the Alpha Gal allergy test for details on the symptoms. I had every symptom except the respiratory distress. I had avoided chocolate and nuts for a year thinking that was the cause. Strangely enough I didn’t have another allergic reaction until the Spring following the original episodes which occurred between March and May of 2011. I would like to know if the effect of the tick bite wears off gradually. I was able to drink milk and eat hamburger all summer, fall and winter without any severe reaction.

  • Linda

    My daughter developed a food allergy to beef and dairy. She also is allergic to certain antibiotics. I thought maybe it was the antibiotics put in their feed. She also was bitten by a tick and had a reaction. I am not sure of the time period. I do know that if she eats beef her lips swell, her eyes swell, quite severe swelling. We could not figure out what it was until she went to the allergist. I had never heard of anyone being allergic to beef before. I, too, would like to know if it goes away after several years. We also live in NY.

  • Resisting Vegetarianism in NC

    I was recently diagnosed with beef and milk allergy after an allergic reaction caused me to have hives and then difficulty breathing. I noticed the rash when the itching woke me and my husband found a tick on me immediately killed it though it was not attached. (Just two weeks prior I had over 28 seed ticks attached after clearing some brush…I found tick days after and the bites were terribly itchy with the hard knot and some lingered for two weeks.) We headed to my Doctors office and before we got there my hands and face had begun to swell and I was having difficulty breathing or wheezing. They immediately called 911 administered Epinephrin and a steroid to open my airways. Sent to the ER to be monitored and sent home with Rx for Steroid and Epi Pens. I went on line to see if anyone else had had a reaction to a tick bite and found the University of Virginia had research to support the tick bite association with beef allergy. I immediately made an appointment for blood work and requested an allergy panel and that I be tested for everything including beef. My P.A. looked at me like I was crazy but agreed after I told her what I had learned. Within a weeks, after being tested, for every allergy with blood work I was informed that I was allergic to beef and milk, told to avoid them and those foods containing either. I am dumbfounded, My life has been turned upside down and I feel like I am running in circles trying to figure out what I can eat. I read one report that said the all mammalian meat (Beef Pork Deer etc.) should be avoided and another that said the allergy was permanent. Now this info says it may go away after several years. Help, who can I get in touch with someone that is knowledgeable about this allergy. I am even willing to participate in research if necessary.

    • mern

      You may have an answer now to your questions, but I also have the allergy. I was diagnosed 2 years ago. I thought I was going to have to convince someone to test me, but there’s an allergist in Chapel Hill, Dr. Peter Bressler, who knows about it so I did not even have to explain it.

  • Howard

    I have had this allergy for over 6 years. It was very difficult to get diagnosed-I ended up diagnosing myself after Web research. My last episode had me ending up in a 24 hour facility with the usual severe hives AND trouble breathing. I don’t seem to have any trouble with milk products??
    I was initially encouraged to read this may be a temporary allergy but then saw that subsequent bites would recharge it and I continue to get tick bites ate the rate of 20-30 per summer so I suppose I am going to be eating chicken (sooooo sick of chicken) and turkey (even more sick of this). For those wondering it is my understanding that Pork and venison are triggers as well. I know for a fact that pork is for me at least because that is what triggered my last episode. I actually wanted to hunt deer this past season but then read that venison will not be edible for me.
    I wonder if hot dogs would trigger this allergy? These are not really made of actual beef/pork are they :) .

  • hiliary

    My foster dog who tested positive for lyme, babesia, rocky mountain spotted fever and erhlichia was allergic to chicken which has been linked to the rmsf…anyone interested in tick borne diseases should google illinois birddog rescue, they have done a lot of research on tbi’s…not just for dogs but also for people.

  • Mitch

    I have had this allergy for 16 years now. I was intrigued by the comment in the article that it goes away after 3 to 5 years. Perhaps it does, but I haven’t been brave enough to try any beef/pork/deer since my last reaction which was 9 years ago. My allergy doc said that as an adult onset allergy, it would most likely not go away. I have the usual reaction: severe hives, breathing difficulties about 5 to 6 hours after consuming beef/pork/deer. It took a while to diagnose, and oddly it came on in stages. At first it was only beef, later pork and then deer had the same effect. Glad to know I’m not the only one out there with this condition. You can substitute ground turkey for a lot of dishes, and turkey bacon is pretty good. I do miss steak and ribs though. They way I choose to see it is there are a lot worse health realted problems that folks have to deal with. In the big picture, this isn’t the end of the world and just maybe the “fins and feathers diet” is better for my heart health.

  • Crawford – Virginia

    I’ve had this allergy for about 8 years and have found that
    I can usually eat a mammal meat once, and then after that the
    histamine is in my body and I will have an allergic reaction
    ( hives, vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, difficulty breathing and loss of consciousness ). The severity seems to increase
    with the number of times that particular protein is introduced into my system.
    Like Mitch, I haven’t had the guts to experiment, and also feel
    that the “fins and feathers” diet could be worse. Know your ingredients!!!! Restaurants often use beef broth and bacon in a lot of dishes. My last trip to the emergency room was from a restaurant turkey burger, (added pork fat for moisture) and I read somewhere that KFC grilled chicken is dusted in some sort of beef powder.
    Hopefully the research continues. This article sounds hopeful.

  • Bonita

    My daughter called me I’ve been sick from pork and especially beef for two years. I live in Indiana we have a lot of ticks I’ve never had a rash but I get sick I feel so uncomfortable throughout the day like a ball in my right side I usually sit fist in stomach. I quit eating meat. Is this blood test expensive
    I had asked to be tested for limes desease and the dr said no I didn’t have a rash but gave me darvocets for muscular and joint pain til they gave me a heart attack at 40.

  • hiliary

    My boyfriend tested positive for lymes disease last week. He never had a rash…the rash only shows up about 40% of the time. He had sweats, nausea, head aches, body aches, fevers,weakness and now has bell’s palsy from it. Im not sure of the cost of the test but its worth being tested. Its treated by antibiotics, usually doxycycline and amoxicillin combo

  • Peggy

    I live on a farm and regularly get tick bites. They always welt up and stay for a few weeks. About a month ago, I awoke with severe itching and hives rapidly spreading. 2 benadyl and they subsided. It just happened again today. I did have pork sausage for breakfast and BBQ for lunch, but I eat all forms of meat and have for the last month many times. Could it be this?

  • Kay

    I’ve had this allergy since 1985. Milk doesn’t bother me though. It’s really tough eating chicken and fish all the time but it is the only alternative at this point.

    • dirtdiggerandlovinit

      I live in Arizona and was bitten by a deer tick here. I am now wondering if this is my problem!  It was not long after that that I started getting very sick when I ate beef, pork and after a few years turkey!  I also only eat chicken and seafood and am tired of it after 25 years.  I got SO sick that I never even wanted to try red meat again! My  husband would take me to the hospital the reactions would get so bad! 

  • Gwen

    out of 6 people in my immediate family, 5 of us are allergic to red meat, including both my father and my mother .. with the exception of my brother, we all began to be affected by red meat at least 25 years ago .. it took a while to figure out what was causing the reactions and then it became a no brainer .. I also have an aunt on my mother’s side that has become allergic, but no other family members that I am aware of .. growing up in the country, we have all been bitten by ticks at various points in our lives .. the allergic reactions are severe; the most severe being my mother passing out and being carried out of the house on a stretcher by paramedics, tongue swelling, breathing passages closing .. I won’t touch red meat, or the meat of anything that has 4 legs

  • Janette

    Glad to have found this site. I have developed an allergy to beef just about 2 years ago. I could not figure out what was causing the allergy, this might be one of the explanations. I am not allergic to any other meat but beef. It causes big huge hives and my whole body itches when this happens. I have a dog and been bit by lots of ticks over the last couple of years….so I am probably suffering from this ailment.

  • Rebecca

    For all of you who are affected by this and feel you have no alternatives (or are tired of eating chickens and turkeys), go to Amazon.com and look up vegan cookbooks. There are hundreds of wonderful cookbooks that will make you wonder why you ever thought eating meat was a good idea in the first place! The plant world is so delicious and diverse.

  • Charlie

    I too have had severe reaction to beef, pork, deer, etc, Hives, throwing up throat closing almost died once when i couldn’t breathe, I had grown up eating all beef products until about 6yrs ago when i was still in my 40s. I have been eating fish, chicken, and turkey for about 6yrs, but 2-days ago I had been visiting my mother in the hospital after a stroke, dazed tired and hungry after sitting by her side for 12 hours i went to the cafeteria and had a order of biscuits and gravy (Not Thinking!) the next day I thought about what i had eaten and asked the cooks what kind of meat was used in the gravy…they said Pork (to my amazement). I would have thought Turkey being in a hospital and all. later the next day I tried a small pork chop… 4 hours later another one, then the next day 2-more, This morning I had biscuits and gravy loaded up with pork sausage!!! (Ho-ray!!!!!! no reaction, but I will wait on trying the beef. I do get tick bites occasionally still and chigger bites all the time and both have the same reaction, itching for weeks and slow to heal with a knot under the skin. but for now at least I am going to (Pig Out) if you know what I mean. and my thoughts are with all of those who can’t do what I am doing, I know I have been there, hang in there and try a little pork now and then and keep the benadril at a short reach.

  • Russell Thomas

    I lived in Belize for several years and was bitten by ticks on at
    least a weekly basis. About a year ago I developed the symptoms
    you mention. After eating beef or pork about 4 hours later I
    developed an itching hives type rash. This developed into
    chest and throat constriction and such. It reduced as I drank
    cold water and took benedril.
    I would be interested to know if and when this allergy will reduce
    to where I can eat red meat again.
    Thank you, Russell Thomas. Now living in Magnolia, Texas

  • http://centurylink Susan

    This started several years ago? Was it even heard of before then? I wonder if anyone is doing research into the use of insecticides, GMO crops, other modified substances in these aras. The mammals graze on or are fed modified food and have frequent contact with internal and external pesticides that we spray, insert or dump into our water. The ticks ingest consentrations of those substances in the blood of the mammals, grow their eggs in that modified soup and then pass along young ones that cause this allergy- We eat at the end of a chain of man made and modified substances. We have fish we can’t eat more than once a month, we have foods that are not recommended for pregnant women, children or the elderly. This could be just another result of our carelessness with pesticides and genetic modification. Just a thought

    • Andrea

      Agreed, Dan Carter. And indeed, yes, this is a new allergy. In fact, when I first googled it in the early 2000s, upon discovering that I had developed it, there was NOTHING about it on the internet. All I could find were statements such as “BEEF is a good food to feed to people with FOOD ALLERGIES because almost no one was allergic to it,” or “Children with milk ALLERGIES occasionally exhibit allergies to “BEEF.” (Caps meant to designate the highlighted key words.) By the way, my allergies have intensified; it’s ALL red meat now, not just beef. And if my husband cooks scrapple, I have to thoroughly wash and scrub the pan before using it myself or I will break out in hives hours later.

  • arbies

    I self diagnodes out a few years ago that I was allergic to beef and pork with exactly the symptoms described here. Okay, so I’ve been smart enough to not eat it anymore but it’s always been a mystery why it happened so all of a sudden. I’ve had more than my share of ticks – I live next to a stand of woods here in Virginia that I love walking through – so this seems a plausible explanation.
    I’ll tell you all this – thank goodness for turkey burgers, turkey chili, turkey tacos,
    turkey pepperoni, turkey bacon…
    I’m waiting for turkey new york strip and turkey ribs – ain’t science great?

  • Kelly

    I have had this allergy for almost 15 years. The first reaction I had was when I was about 7 months pregnant so I thought it had something to do with my pregnancy. It happened again about 6 months later. I had 2 small children at the time so my doctor just said “Stress can come out in many ways”. It took about 13 years to figure out what was causing me to wake during the night with severe stomach pains, then explosive diarrhea, followed by hives all over, with swollen and itchy feet and hands. Sometimes respitory distress, once a swollen tongue (that was scary), nasal allergy symtoms…you name it. I ate beef and pork on a very regular basis and this would only occur every month or two (sometimes I would go longer) so it was very hard to figure out. I started making mental notes when I would have a “spell” of what I had eaten that day, it always came back to beef. I stopped eating beef except occasionally, and the symptoms subsided (down to only 3 or 4 reactions a year). Then I started having the same reaction to pork, so I cut pork down to occasionally also. My husband deer hunts so he talked me into eating deer meat, I woke up the next morning with my lip about 20 times it’s normal size! If I take a Claritin every day it seems like I can eat a small bit of beef/pork a week without a reaction. I don’t have reactions to milk, I drink that every day. This article is very interesting and finally sheds light on my condition. I do have severe reactions to ticks (I live in Georgia and usually have 3-4 ticks a year), they swell into a knot and take weeks to heal. Also, for all those years I had a skin rash on my hands, now it only flares up when I’ve eaten beef or pork. And like the others have said…Chicken, turkey, fish and shrimp get OLD quick. I want a big juicy hamburger (and no turkey burger will do…YUCK!)

    • Bryan Huff

      I have had this for almost the same amount of time. I’m so sensitive now that just cutting my sandwich with a knife that has cut a roast beef sandwich causes a reaction. No fun at all.

  • Kelly Strowd

    I have had this allergy for about 5 years – confirmed through a blood test. At the beginning I ,of course, didn’t know what it was due to the 4 hour delay in symptoms plus the fact that I could eat beef or pork one time with no hives then the next time be covered in them! I have simply avoided beef and pork for all these years but last week read a comment here about the allergy going away eventually….so I decided to test it out. With Benadryl and my trusty Epipen by my side…I ate and oh so enjoyed a Fliet Minon. I haven’t had steak in years and it was so good! Well….I actually did not have a reaction! No hives, no stomach ache, no headache! I don’t know if it was a fluke or if my allergy is gone – I guess the only way to know is to test it in a controlled and safe environment. IT’s been so long – I am not even sure if I want to eat beef or pork now, but it sure would be nice for those times when I just want a big juicy cheeseburger!

  • Kelly Strowd

    I have had this allergy for about 5 years – confirmed through a blood test. At the beginning I ,of course, didn’t know what it was due to the 4 hour delay in symptoms plus the fact that I could eat beef or pork one time with no hives then the next time be covered in them! I have simply avoided beef and pork for all these years but last week read a comment here about the allergy going away eventually….so I decided to test it out. With Benadryl and my trusty Epipen by my side…I ate and oh so enjoyed a Fliet Minon. I haven’t had steak in years and it was so good! Well….I actually did not have a reaction! No hives, no stomach ache, no headache! I don’t know if it was a fluke or if my allergy is gone – I guess the only way to know is to test it in a controlled and safe environment. It’s been so long – I am not even sure if I want to eat beef or pork now, but it sure would be nice for those times when I just want a big juicy cheeseburger!

  • http://foodsafetynews.com Gerald

    I developed the allergy about 3 years ago but did not know what it was until it sent me to the emergency room in acute anaphylaxis. The attending physician finally figured out it was a meat allergy and the allergist confirmed it. My initial thought was “Man, God sure has a strange sense of humour.” as I love both beef and pork. I carry an Epipen as a precaution, but have not required its use as yet, although I still eat both beef and pork pretty much as I please. This is what I have learned so far. According to the the allergist, and various web sites, the root cause of the allergy is something call alpha-gal (short for alpha-galactose, or something like that), which is a sugar that ends up in the bloodstream after ingesting mammalian or red meat (cows, pigs, sheep, goat, etc.). If a tick bite causes an allergic reaction (turns red, itches, swells, etc.), it triggers the body’s immune system to produce antibodies as a reaction to the proteins from the tick bite. The antibodies seem to have a sensitivity to the alpha-gal and respond with a release of histamine which can cause anything from mild hives (irritating) to anaphlactic shock (dangerous).
    I have a chemistry and engineering background, so I have a tendency to come up with theories regarding the control of my allergy. I DO NOT SUGGEST THAT ANYONE ELSE DO THIS, it is just to satisfy my own curious nature. At my doctor’s suggestion, I take a 24 hour Claritin tablet each day as a prophylactic antihistamine to blunt any symptoms that might crop up from unwittingly ingesting red meat (it could be something as simple as beef broth as an ingredient in something), which I have done for about a year and a half now. After a while I got to thinking – where did the alpha-gal come from and why did it take several hours to show up in the blood stream? To my knowledge, the only way you can get sugars in the blood is from either ingesting sugars directly, or from the break down of starches, carbohydrates or FATS by digestion. It occurred to me that the alpha-gal might be the result of digested fats from red meat. I have always preferred lean cuts of beef and pork so my intake of fats had always been fairly low. I also noticed that my most severe attack occurred after eating some beef fahitas, which were really good, made with beef that had a higher fat content than I normally cared for. I theorized that the alpha-gal had to reach a critical level in the blood stream to trigger the histamine and the level of histamine released would be directly proportional to level of alpha-gal present in the blood. Therefore, I decided to make sure I knew the general fat content of any beef or pork I ingested (minimun 85% ground beef, lean filets, lean pork chops, etc) and to trim any fat from the likes of country ham and make sure bacon is fully cooked and drained. I also limit my bacon intake to only a few slices, such as on a BLT or a lean cheeseburger. I have found the key for me is moderation and knowing the quality of what I eat, along with taking a 24 hour Claritin each morning. If I do something that concerns me, such as have a hamburger of unknown fat content or a rib-eye steak that is heavily marbled, then I will take a dose of Benadryl before going to bed as a way to bolster the Claritin against a potential histamine reaction later that night. In the past year and a half, I have had about 4 incidents that I suspect are attributable to the meat allergy. All have been very mild (no hives, some minor tingling of the skin around the ankles, minor nausea, mild/medium diarrhea and no blood pressure or breathing issues). If I get up in the early morning with any of the symptoms, no matter how mild, I take 1 or 2 Benedryl capsules on my way to the bathroom and usually within 30 minutes, the symptoms have disappeared. Right now, I seem to have my allergy under control without giving up the things I love to eat. Now that could change, but for now, it is working for me.
    Gerald
    Fuquay Varina, NC

    • David

       Hey Gerald… that is the way I used to be, until I was bitten again.  Now, even the slightest amount of alpha-gal gives me serious anaphylaxis.  So, my advice, keep up your behavior, but do NOT get bitten again by that tick.  It WILL make it worse.  My allergies started around 1990, because I used to get bitten alot while back packing in those days.  Then, by 2001, I was eating meat again… then, in 2007, another bite, a very bad reaction from the bite itself, and shortly after it all… Anaphylaxis three times a week.  I can no longer even eat cheese with rennet because of my high level of sensitivity.  BTW, I’m in Raleigh!!!

  • Evilzoot

    My mother developed a beef allergy several years ago that could not be explained. After my husband saw a news report about this we asked her if she had been bitten by a tick prior to the allergy, and she had! Kudos to research and kismet!

  • Wastemaster2012

    This happened to me too. I found a tick I had missed in my belly button. I developed an allergic reaction to peanuts, beef, and chicken. My throat would swell up and I could hardly breath. My throat got so sore it was bleeding. I thought I had cancer. I went to a doctor, she said it was just severe acid-reflux. The cure came at radom. I was working in a hot foundry and developed a boil from heat and sweat. I also had a fever. The doctor I went to drained the boil and put me on two powerful anti-biotics for a couple of weeks. I beat the infection and the boil healed. Then I noticed my throat started getting better. It gradually healed up and I can eat meat and peanuts again.

  • Demi111

    I’m in the Midwest was bit in 2008 and 2010.  I cannot eat any nuts at all but for walnuts and not many. Same with eggs, hives and severe nausea, and poultry, same thing.  I can eat red meat though but 4 years ago i could not, that cropped up about 8 yrs ago mysteriously.  No gmo’s in my diet ever so i know that’s not my issues.  These ticks cause some wonky things to go on with the immune system.

  • Cbyrd87

    I had this allergy to red meat from the “Lonestar tick” for two years until someone introduced me to Nambrudripad’s Allergy Eliminating Therapy (NAET). At first I was skeptical about this type of therapy, but at that point, I was willing to try anything. Luckily it worked and I can now eat red meat again. I highly recommend this therapy to anyone who is experiencing the allergy from the “Lonestar tick”. NAET THERAPY REALLY WORKS!

  • jen469

    It is NOT just Lone Star tick’s.  
    I have in Oregon, only ever bitten by deer ticks.  

    Also, it may not go away so fast – mine started 6yrs ago, and I was just in the ER again last night.  So it ain’t going away in 5yrs for me!

    • Andrea

      Mine hasn’t subsided either; it’s been 14 years, and if anything, it’s getting WORSE.

  • chassity1

    My name is trevell saul I had an allergic reaction after eating a hamburger from mcdonalds before that when consuming steak or hamburger I would suffer abdominal cramps,diarrhea and had to lie down but after the hamburger I was taken to the hospital with severe itching of feet, back, lips swelling, abdominal cramps. The hamburger was eaten in late afternoon symptoms did not start until around midnight. after several months i tried to eat hamburger helper with in no time developed cramping, diarrhea and took benadryl, pepcid and prednisone which is what i was given at the hospital. the symptoms went away luckily but i just gave up the red meat i only consume turkey tilapia fish or fish steaks turkey bacon or chicken turkey hotdogs. past summer i was bitten by a couple of ticks with spot. I live in country Virginia. My mom also met a guy older in 70′s that was bitten also about 10 miles from us and he was bitten and cannot consume any red meat.  please email me with any updates veldalancaster@aol.com . In the meantime i will get an ige to see what my level is.

  • http://www.facebook.com/laurarrosier Laura Lumsden Rosier

    The makers of ERBITUX should be made by the government to WARN people about the danger of the drug and having a tick bite!  It killed my husband in minutes and yet they do nothing, even though they know about it.  It was how the meat allergy was discovered.  It is really a shame that they can get away with it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1081137894 Lori Calton

    I do not recall ever being bitten by a tick. However, whenever I eat meat, I my scalp, back, hands and trunk begin to itch really bad. 

  • adema1201@hotmail.com

    Could it not be that all of the preservatives and chemicals that they inject our meat with is causing the proteins to change? Thus creating an allergic reaction? People have eaten red meat for tousands of years and bitten by ticks as well. You can’t tell me that there are more ticks than before. Or that more people are being bitten by ticks. That seems illogical.
    A good friend of mine ate a hot dog one time after being bitten by a tick. Without doing any testing or any research his doctor told him that he was simply allergic to all hoofed animals and could never eat them again. I find myself sceptical because of the fact that it was a hot dog. I could very well be wrong but I think it’s a pretty good theory!

    • slayerwulfe

      inclined to agree, I have never been bitten by a lone star tick. my reactions have been this, within 1or 2 minutes my palms start to itch and rapidly spreads everywhere even my eyes. my skin turns a really bright orange/red accompanied by delirium such as once thinking I’m beautiful like this. an undeniable desire to get into water follows and the climax is uncontrollable vomiting and a coma like state for 2/3 days. went through it 5 times before I figured it out, don’t ever want to go through it again.
      slayerwulfe

      • Andrea

        If you live anywhere in the American Southeast, including the mid-Atlantic up through New Jersey, you could easily have been bitten without knowint it. The ticks are not that big, and unlike dog ticks, they don’t always hang on until swollen with blood.

        • slayerwulfe

          thank you for your comment. i live in a large north east city there are no ticks. i have had deer, elk, bison and rabbit that are purchased without any additions such as beef fat and there have been no problems. i have only experienced this with American beef. the study is as faulty as Dr. Oz and his organic arsenic scare. if this were caused by ticks we would see an epidemic. the Japanese have recently made an agreement with Australia as the sole import of beef, i’m going to try some of theirs.
          slayerwulfe

    • Andrea

      It’s not the preservatives and chemicals. (That was the theory my father, a retired physician suggested.) The only red meat I was consuming, before the onset of my symptoms about 14 years ago, was wild game, such as venison, and buffalo, which is organic and grass-fed. However, I used to be a park naturalist and have frequently been bitten by these ticks.

      • slayerwulfe

        @Andrea your father should have been educated in antibiotics. preservatives & chemicals are lay person terms for ” i don’t have the educational background to know what i’m talking about, but i believe i’m sincere’
        slayerwulfe

  • Ric

    I believe that I have contracted this there seems to be no other explanation for it. I have been to several doctors and none of them and give me a plausible reason for my episodes. I was bitten by tick about 6 years ago and I broke out in hives and had severe abdominal pains, fever, diarrhea, and vomiting. I was diagnosed with rocky mountain spotted fever after 3 visits to the hospital. I noticed soon after that I would get sick from eating burgers, steaks, and beef in general. My symptoms after eating beef would be abdominal pain, sulfur burps, vomiting and diarrhea. I wonder if I could have contracted this from the tick bite I had gotten 6 years ago. I live in CT and haven’t left the state in 8 years. I have given up beef entirely and I still get these symptoms from time to time. it seems to flare up if I have milk or those premade peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I wonder if they have some kind of beef additive in the peanut butter, I can only speculate. This article seems to be the best lead on an answer to what seems to be a condition with no explanation. I’m going to mention this to my doctor and hopefully they can test me to see if this can be a possibility.

    • The Incredible Mrs. D

      Seriously. I am SO glad I am not the only one with the “sulfur burps”. I have been going insane over that for months now so has my husband. I’ve known for awhile that beef kills my stomach but it only recently dawned on me the sulfur taste was related.

  • Cam Wright

    I Developed this allergy about eleven years ago . I have had numerous tick bites living on farms in Va. and Md.
    In general my health has improved from avoiding all red meat.
    Duck breast is a great substitute .

    • Andrea

      Yeah, but man, every once in a while, I’d just love to be able to throw a steak on the grill! (Venison or buffalo, not beef.) But I can’t….

  • Silver

    I live in Australia, and we do not have the lone star tick but increasingly people around the south coast of NSW are developing this allergy too. We blame the bush paralisis tick. I only ever got one tick, pulled it off within moments of it attaching to myself but that particular body part swelled up so much my husband took me to Emergency (let’s just say I usually wear a size 10 undies and had to buy size 18 undies to get me through a few weeks). About a month later my husband made us a pizza with a small amount of organic ham on it, and that was my first anaphylaxic reaction. I had heard about this allergy, so I steered clear of mammal meat until I could see an immunologist. The night he telephoned me to tell me my allergy levels were extremely high, I saw that my husband had cooked ‘corned beef’ – I cut a slice the size of a child’s palm, and four hours later we called an ambulance. I know – but I just wanted to say goodbye to the foods I’d loved so much.
    At least we can eat duck! Australians don’t really eat turkey, so that isn’t an easy option for me. I’d move to the US – except you seem to have even more ticks than we do. Even Norway has ticks now!

  • Dan Carter

    The range of the lone-star tick has been expanding northward rather rapidly in recent decades, so new people are getting exposed to ticks. There are also a lot of potential causes for allergic reactions, and there was no reason to suspect the ticks were involved, especially when the proximate cause was meat. It is doubtful that the reactions are new at all.

  • Mike

    Epidemiological data can establish a relationship between variables, but correlation does not imply causation. That data can be used as a road map for basic science to determine how real that relationship is.
    Although I vaguely remember this article from 9 months ago, the fact that the scientist interviewed stated “What is it about the tick? Is it a new organism in the tick saliva that is inducing this response?” would bring into question of whether or not all tick bites from a lone-star tick produce a meat allergy. If it is, in fact, the tick is just an arthropod vector for a microorganism, then, as I suggested in my post, that Koch’s postulates would have to be fulfilled to establish the cause and effect (that is how epidemiology and basic science research work hand-in-hand).
    If you look at the posts below this, you will see a bunch of people retrospectively trying to associate their allergies with potential tick bites as it is causation…but these observations have no scientific merit.

    • Dan Carter

      Correlation does not have to imply causation for it to provide evidence that tick-bitten individuals have a higher probability of developing the allergy. It tells us that the tick-bitten population is more likely to have the allergy than the one that is not tick-bitten. You are also confusing cause and the mechanism of the cause. If the tick is a vector, the tick is still necessary, just as deer ticks are necessary for the transmission of the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. It is a semantic distinction, but a useless one.

      That said, there could be some hidden co-variate with tick bites related to behavior of those that tend to get tick bites, but it would also have to be temporally associated with the tick bites, given the timing of allergy development after the tick bites.

  • Tez in Maryland

    I’ve had this allergy for about 5 years and continue to get both tick and chigger bites, so I don’t expect the allergy to go away. So far it’s beef and lamb that are my problems. BUT I have found that if the beef is well cooked (like all day in a crock pot) I have no problem. I can eat bison. About 3 months ago I had an event after eating 1 hotdog. Until then I’d had no reaction from hotdogs.
    People that are willing to experiment might try the long cooking method (which allows the fat to cook out and be skimmed off.) Somewhere in this thread fat is mentioned. I concur that fat might be a major issue.

  • Christy

    This happened to me, all of a sudden I was allergic to beef. However, I haven’t had a reaction in quite a while (knock on wood). I would have severe itching that started with my hands.

  • Em

    I have a beef allergy, I didn’t eat beef for years and when i started it was all organic beef so I known its not to any hormone/chemical. I get hives/rash, terrible stomach pains etc. I live in Eastern Oklahoma but I don’t ever remember recently being bit by a tick a fiddle back bit me right before I started having the reaction though. So maybe its related?

  • Andrea

    Dude!, it’s possible that one may need to have a predisposition to developing allergies in order for the tick bite to cause this allergic response. That’s why not everyone who’s bitten gets the allergy. I, for instance, suffered from severe hay fever and pet allergies as a child, for which I received weekly allergy shots over a 10 year period. Perhaps I have some succeptibility to allergies — or perhaps the treatments themselves have altered my immune response in some way.

  • Andrea

    Except it’s not just supermarket meat. Venison, rabbit, squirrel (yes, I really used to eat like that!) cause it too. So does buffalo, which is organic, grass-fed, and free-range.

  • slayerwulfe

    the voice of reason is scientific method.

  • slayerwulfe

    @AllieB you didn’t state if you had breathing difficulties or swelling, that would be helpful. my symptoms are itching everywhere within a minute or two (i don’t know what hives are) my whole body becomes orange/red, intense delirium that includes a desire to be in water, nausea and vomiting for hours and a dead like comatose state for 2/3 days and nothing else as though that’s a +. i believe i’m experiencing a reaction to antibiotics.
    if you could be very precise in what is happening to you it would be helpful.

    • ladyelf

      Slayerwulfe, my husband has just been diagnosed with the alpha gal allergy. We have been going crazy for months trying to figure out after being with him over 20 years all of a sudden he would break out in hives the size of dinner plates and larger. He was diagnosed with the blood test. If you have not had the blood test done yet, you need to. One of the hallmarks of this particular allergy is that you do NOT break out within minutes, it is anywhere from 3-8 hours after consumption of mammalian meats.

      If you aren’t sure what hives are, then you need to just google them, there are many images of them. But the biggest thing of all is you need to get to the doctor, whether it is your GP or an immunologist/allergist and ask for the blood test to be performed. I would be very curious as to whether or not it would come back positive for alpha gal.

      His symptoms have been anywhere from stomach disorders, diarrhea, heartburn, to swelling of the face, eyes, legs and large itchy hives.

      Get the test, you’ll feel much better after you do, if it’s negative for this particular type of allergy, then the allergist can go from there and see what is going on. If you are taking antibiotics (you referred to thinking you were having a reaction to antibiotics?) .

      You aren’t going to find a diagnosis in any forum, only your doctor can help you figure it out.

      I hope that you figure it out, but from what I have seen with my husband and the fact that things are happening within a minute or two you are not experiencing the alpha gal type allergy, but you are experiencing something and it needs to be treated.

  • slayerwulfe

    @Hazel Ra insightful, could be a digestive enzyme or virus from a tick, could be a reaction to an antibiotic, many are allergic to penicillin. none of us should act on the impulse of assumption but document exactly what is happening to us. what is causing my reaction is not necessarily the same as someones else’s.

  • Stephanie

    I was bitten by a lone star tick about 6 to 8 months ago. Around the area of the bite there were the rings and I went to the doctor and got treated for Lyme and I tested negative. Just recently, May 14th I started having really bad drops in blood pressure and passing out, fatigue, was on leave of absence from work for 6 weeks. Went to a cardiologist had some tests and now on blood pressure meds to raise my blood pressure. I’m completely healthy otherwise. Do you know how long after the tick bite the allergy can start and how do you get tested for it?