Recent research uncovers tick bite as the cause for a delayed allergic reaction to red meat

July 24, 2012, Springer

If you are a steak lover, enjoy your meat while you can. An article by Susan Wolver, MD, and Diane Sun, MD, from Virginia Commonwealth University in the US, and colleagues, explains why if you have been bitten by a tick, you may develop an allergy to red meat. Their article elucidates this connection and discusses the journey of the discovery. Their work appears online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Delayed anaphylaxis - a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction - to meat is a new syndrome identified initially in the southeastern United States. Patients may wake up in the middle of the night, with or anaphylaxis usually three to six hours after having eaten red meat for dinner. Until recently, the link between ingestion and anaphylaxis had remained elusive.

Wolver, Sun and colleagues' analysis of three patient case studies sheds light on this reaction. It is thought to be caused by antibodies to a carbohydrate (alpha-gal) that are produced in a patient's blood in response to a tick bite, specifically the Lone Star tick. This carbohydrate substance is also present in meat. When an individual who has been bitten by a tick eats the meat, his or her immune system activates the release of * in response to the presence of alpha-gal, which can cause hives and anaphylaxis.

Significantly, meat-induced anaphylaxis is the first food-induced severe allergic reaction due to a carbohydrate rather than a protein. It is also the first time anaphylaxis has been noted to be delayed rather than occurring immediately after exposure.

The authors conclude: "Where ticks are endemic, for example in the southeastern United States, clinicians should be aware of this new syndrome when presented with a case of anaphylaxis. Current guidance is to counsel patients to avoid all mammalian meat - beef, pork, lamb and ."

Explore further: Incidences and severity of prostate cancer correlated with meat consumption: study

More information: Wolver SE et al (2012). A peculiar case of anaphylaxis: no more steak? The journey to discovery of a newly recognized allergy to galactose--1,3-galactose found in mammalian meat. Journal of General Internal Medicine; DOI 10.1007/s11606-012-2144-z

Related Stories

Incidences and severity of prostate cancer correlated with meat consumption: study

November 23, 2011
Increased consumption of ground beef or processed meat is positively associated with aggressive prostate cancer, according to a study published Nov. 23 in the online journal PLoS ONE.

Summer's heat may enflame hives

May 30, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Nearly one in four people develops hives at some time or another, and they can be triggered by hot summer weather.

Recommended for you

Genomics reveals key macrophages' involvement in systemic sclerosis

January 18, 2018
A new international study has made an important discovery about the key role of macrophages, a type of immune cell, in systemic sclerosis (SSc), a chronic autoimmune disease which currently has no cure.

First vaccine developed against grass pollen allergy

January 18, 2018
Around 400 million people worldwide suffer in some form or other from a grass pollen allergy (rhinitis), with the usual symptoms of runny nose, cough and severe breathing problems. In collaboration with the Viennese firm ...

Researchers discover key driver of atopic dermatitis

January 17, 2018
Severe eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that is driven by an allergic reaction. In their latest study, researchers at La Jolla Institute reveal an important player that promotes ...

Who might benefit from immunotherapy? New study suggests possible marker

January 16, 2018
While immunotherapy has made a big impact on cancer treatment, the fact remains that only about a quarter of patients respond to these treatments.

Researchers identify new way to unmask melanoma cells to the immune system

January 16, 2018
system, which enables these deadly skin cancers to grow and spread.

How the immune system's key organ regenerates itself

January 15, 2018
With advances in cancer immunotherapy splashing across headlines, the immune system's powerful cancer assassins—T cells—have become dinner-table conversation. But hiding in plain sight behind that "T" is the organ from ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.