First Lyme Disease, Now Meat Allergies: Apparently Tick Bites Are Spreading Vegetarianism

meat allergies
In probably the grossest news we’ve heard this week, new research shows that the lone star tick may be causing a rash of meat allergies in the central and southern regions of the U.S. Typically, ticks are dreaded for their ability to spread Lyme disease, but now researchers now think that “saliva that sneaks into [bite wounds] might trigger a reaction to meat agonizing enough to convert lifelong carnivores into wary vegetarians.” Excuse me while I go shudder uncontrollably.

The link between ticks and meat allergies is still tenuous, but whatever the cause, the spreading meat allergy sounds pretty terrifying; reactions include hives and even going into anaphylactic shock, anywhere from three to six hours after eating beef. Adult-onset food allergies aren’t unheard of, but they’re definitely unusual, especially in such high numbers.

Dr. Scott Commins, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, told ABC News that lone star tick bites seem to raise the blood level of antibodies for a specific sugar found in beef, lamb and pork. “It’s complicated, no doubt,” said Commins, but he and other researchers believe that the cause is something in these ticks’ saliva.

Whether they’re wrong or right, probably still a good idea to check out our guide to keeping tick bites at bay.

Photo: flicker user Stefano A

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    • urgelt

      I’ll share an anecdote – though anecdotes don’t prove anything, they can sometimes point out areas needing more research.
      I contracted Lyme Disease in 1998. Unfortunately, my doctors didn’t successfully diagnose it until four years and nine months later, at which point even long-term antibiotic treatments were ineffective in halting the progression of the disease.
      Among the plethora of symptoms which have played out on my body, I could no longer stomach meat; eating it induced nausea and digestive track disturbances. I became a ‘wary vegetarian.’ I remained able to consume milk products, eggs and fish. My revulsion for meat – especially chicken – hasn’t abated with the passing of years.
      Before Lyme, becoming a vegetarian wasn’t on my list of things to do, believe me. I didn’t do it for ideological reasons.
      Speculating ‘something in the saliva of the tick’ implies a transient phenomenon. I see no reason to prefer that hypothesis over another: that the Lyme bacteria itself is responsible for nausea and digestive track disturbances – allergies? – towards meat.

    • chickhumble

      I was only able to eat well done almost burnt bacon……Please God get these doctors on the same track that us people who had been thur this diease!!!

    • Carrie Jayne Yopp

      I am Alpha Gal positive, My own research has proved to be helpful in understanding this disorder. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone and am hoping to spread the word to healthcare professionals who in my experience are absolutely clueless when it comes to this allergy.