Lone Star Tick Bites To Blame For Meat Allergy
Late last month, the CDC issued a press release regarding the emergence of a tick-bite related meat allergy. According to their statement, a significant number of Americans may have an allergy to meat, specifically to a sugar called alpha-gal, caused by tick bites, and can lead to serious health issues. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at Alpha-gal Syndrome (AGS), the growing concern over this allergy, and strategies to avoid tick bites.
What is Alpha-gal Syndrome?
Alpha-gal Syndrome, also known as alpha-gal allergy or alpha-galactose allergy, is a type of food allergy characterized by an immune response to the alpha-galactose sugar molecule. It is primarily associated with the consumption of red meat and certain mammalian products, such as beef, pork, lamb, and venison. This condition is unique among food allergies because it is triggered by a carbohydrate (alpha-gal) rather than a protein.
Tick bites can cause the Alpha-gal Syndrome
The allergic reaction in Alpha-gal Syndrome occurs when a person who is sensitized to alpha-gal comes into contact with it, typically through the bite of certain ticks, particularly the Lone Star tick. The tick bite transfers alpha-gal into the bloodstream, and the immune system begins producing IgE antibodies against alpha-gal as a defense mechanism.
Symptoms of the alpha-gal syndrome
When a person with alpha-gal syndrome consumes red meat or other foods containing alpha-gal, their immune system recognizes the sugar as a threat and releases histamines and other chemicals, leading to allergic symptoms. These symptoms can vary from mild to severe and may include:
- Hives or skin rash
- Swelling of the lips, tongue, throat, or eyelids
- Severe stomach pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Heartburn or indigestion
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty breathing
- Dizziness or faintness
- Drop in blood pressure
Do New Jersey residents have to worry about Alpha-gal Syndrome?
Unfortunately, Lone star ticks, the species known to trigger Alpha-gal Syndrome, are commonly found across New Jersey including Bergen and Monmouth counties. In fact, this homeowner from Howell, NJ has experienced a severe meat allergy after a tick bite.
While we do not have an exact number of cases, we do know that the NJDOH started a statewide surveillance for AGS back in January, 2022 in order to understand the local epidemiology and identify areas where incidences have increased or decreased.
How to avoid tick bites and reduce chances of developing AGS or other tick borne diseases
While tick exposure can occur year-round, the chances of being bitten by a tick in the Garden State is extremely high right now and will remain so until later in the year. That’s why it’s essential for New Jersey residents to take precautions when spending time outdoors and especially in areas where ticks are likely to be lurking. With that in mind, here are a few tick prevention tips to use next time you head outdoors:
- Avoid walking through tall grass, bushy and wooded areas, or other places ticks live
- Walk in the center of trails or paths when hiking or exercising
- Wear pants and long-sleeved shirts when spending time in areas with high tick activity
- Treat your clothing and gear with products that contain 0.5% permethrin
- Examine your clothing and body (including but not limited to under the arms, in and around the ears, inside belly button, and back of knees) for ticks after spending any amount of time outside
- Check pets for ticks
- Mow your lawn regularly
- Haul away tall grasses and clear out dense overgrowth
- Avoid feeding wild animals that introduce ticks
Sign up for seasonal tick control and take back your yard!
If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for Arrow’s Bite Back Reduction program! Our seasonal mosquito and tick control, available in Saddle River, Howell, and communities throughout our multi-county service area, includes:
- A granular tick treatment in April & October
- Five monthly mosquito and tick treatments May – September
- The Arrow Promise- if, for any reason, weather or any other factors interfere with your service efficacy, Arrow will re-do your treatment FREE of charge
In addition to our seasonal service, Arrow also offers a home pest control plan that protects against common house-infesting insects and rodents and includes mosquito and tick control. That’s one plan -all the pests!
If you’re looking for an all-encompassing pest control service, Arrow ONE is the ideal solution. This program includes all the benefits of our Arrow Premier program but with four additional services each year. On top of that, this program includes our highly effective stink bug control service PLUS our BITE BACK! mosquito and tick reduction program. Our Arrow ONE plan is a one-stop for total home protection against pests in New Jersey!
- Comprehensive year-round pest protection
- Consists of full interior and exterior inspections and treatments.
- Covers your entire property* including the attic, mailbox, play set, shed, and fence.
- Includes a certified termite inspection and ongoing termite control.
- Annual wood-destroying organism report
- Includes stink bug exclusion services in the fall
- Tick and mosquito reduction services
- White glove, proactive monthly services
Pests targeted with Arrow’s Premier includes cockroaches, silverfish, spiders, earwigs, clover mites, millipedes, centipedes, crickets, ground beetles, boxelder bugs, ants (including carpenter ants, pharaoh ants and acrobatic), fleas (inside only), pillbugs, sow bugs, fruit flies, stored product pests, bees, wasps, hornets, carpenter bees, mice, stink bugs, mosquitoes, deer ticks, dog ticks, lone star ticks, and rodents PLUS termites
*If you have a pool house that requires service, pricing would increase based upon the size of the structure.
Schedule a free home evaluation today or give us a call if you’d like more information!
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