Tick bite can cause unusual allergy - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Tick bite can cause unusual allergy

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PUXICO, MO (KFVS) -

If you've been outside on a hike or even walking on the grass so far this spring, you may have noticed a couple of ticks on you.

And that's going to be a common theme this summer as the Missouri Department of Conservation says ticks are especially bad this year.

A lot of us are aware of Lyme disease when we talk about ticks, but two people in Puxico got a lesser known meat allergy that can come from a bite from a Lone Star tick.

It can make you allergic to alpha-gal, which is an enzyme found in mammal meat.

That means, no more beef, pork, or red meat.

If a person does eat red meat, they can have symptoms like an allergic reaction, including asthma, sneezing, nausea, and hives.

And those who have the alpha-gal allergy say it's been a life changing experience.

"Eating out is very difficult because you don't know what they made the gravy in or what they used to make it with," said Pat Holloway.  "If it's bacon grease or sausage, I can't eat it. Fried eggs and that kind of stuff.  So I have to be very careful and ask a lot of questions and just eat poultry and fish basically."

"It varied because like I said at that volleyball practice, my throat was tightening up and it got really hard for me to breathe," said Megan Lowery.  "Other times I would just start itching and it wouldn't be that bad. But sometimes it was scary."

Now how exactly the Lone Star tick bites cause this allergy is unknown at this point, but scientists think it may be due to an organism in the tick's saliva.

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