By: Lacey Sanchez, NP-C
Have you heard about the rare meat allergy that can cause anaphylaxis?
Here are the facts.
Tick Bite Allergy
It’s called Alpha-gal allergy or Mammalian Meat Allergy (MMA) and it’s an unusual meat allergy condition. The allergy develops after a bite from the Lone Star tick. This tick is typically found in the southeastern United States. The tick bite triggers a person’s immune system to begin producing IgE antibodies to alpha-gal, a carbohydrate found in mammalian meat such as beef, lamb, venison and pork.
How bad is it?
Alpha-gal allergy can be difficult to recognize because it can present with delayed allergic manifestations. Unlike most food allergy which typically triggers allergy symptoms immediately. Reactions typically occur 4-6 hours after eating a meal containing meat. Allergy symptoms may range from mild to severe anaphylaxis. To add to the odd presentation of this allergy, allergic reactions do not necessarily occur after every exposure to red meat.
Do I have it?
If you have had delayed allergic symptoms after eating meat, it’s time to see us. We will discuss the various testing options including possible skin testing and a blood test to help confirm a diagnosis of alpha-gal meat allergy. Those with alpha-gal allergy should follow strict dietary avoidance of all mammalian meat. It is also very important to have an updated anaphylaxis treatment plan which includes having an EpiPen to use in the event of an accidental exposure.