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