Tick-borne Alpha-Gal Syndrome: The Surging Meat Allergy From Tick Bites Impacting Thousands In The US

(CTN NEWS) – Unveiling a burgeoning trend, experts assert that the incidence of an uncommon meat allergy among Americans, resulting from tick bites, is on the rise, potentially affecting a staggering number of 450,000 individuals.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in their latest data release on Thursday, has unveiled a steep surge in cases involving alpha-gal syndrome.

This peculiar allergy elicits a potentially life-threatening response to various forms of meat and animal-derived products.

A diligent investigation by US scientists has linked the origin of alpha-gal to the saliva of the lone star tick.

Tick-borne Alpha-Gal Syndrome: An Emerging Health Concern in the United States

Distinguished by a conspicuous white spot on its back, this tick species predominantly inhabits the southern and eastern regions of the United States. However, experts caution that their territory is expanding due to the influence of climate change.

When a person consumes certain types of meat and animal products derived from mammals, blood-sucking bites from the lone star, scientifically known as Amblyomma americanum, can lead to illness.

The catalogue of hazardous foods for those afflicted by alpha-gal syndrome includes pork, beef, rabbit, lamb, venison, gelatine, milk, certain dairy products, and select pharmaceuticals.

Symptoms associated with this enigmatic syndrome encompass stomach cramps, diarrhea, hives, and breathlessness, which may potentially trigger fatal anaphylaxis.

The responses to alpha-gel syndrome may vary from one individual to another, ranging from mild to severe or even life-threatening, according to the CDC.

Anaphylaxis, a potentially lethal reaction affecting multiple organ systems, may necessitate immediate medical attention.

However, it is important to note that not every instance of alpha-gal exposure leads to an allergic reaction, as highlighted by the CDC.

Given the gradual and intricate process of meat digestion in the human body, detecting any symptoms that may emerge can prove to be a formidable challenge.

According to the CDC, more than 110,000 cases of alpha-gal syndrome have been identified since 2010. Notably, from 2017 to 2021, the number of cases escalated by approximately 15,000 annually.

Owing to the complexities involved in diagnosing the condition, the CDC estimates that a considerable total of 450,000 Americans might have developed meat allergies due to alpha-gal.

An eye-opening survey conducted last year among 1,500 medical practitioners and healthcare workers revealed that 42% of them had never even heard of this syndrome.

Survey Results: Participants’ Confidence in Recognizing the Disease

As disclosed in the survey, which the CDC also released on Thursday, roughly one-third of the participants expressed “not too confident” sentiments about their ability to recognize the disease. Merely 5% conveyed being “very confident” in their capacity to do so.

Interestingly, the syndrome’s accidental discovery occurred in 2008 when US researchers encountered unexpected outcomes while conducting trials for a cancer treatment drug.

Meanwhile, in the Sydney region of Australia, the Ixodes holocyclus, popularly known as the paralysis tick, has also been responsible for instigating similar meat allergies.

Experts strongly advise individuals to shield themselves when outdoors and frequently inspect their bodies for tick bites. Such bites can lead to various hazardous ailments, including Lyme disease, and are particularly prevalent during warmer months.

To ensure better protection outdoors, the CDC recommends employing insect repellents containing DEET or treating clothing with a chemical called permethrin.


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