We know ticks are blamed for illnesses like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. But now doctors are finding some of these parasites may also cause allergic reactions in certain people specifically after eating red meat. It sounds bizarre.
Dr. Thomas Patts-Mills, an allergist at the Universtiy of Virginia says it's probably been happening for a very long time, but they're just now discovering why eating red meat may cause even a severe reaction in some people after a tick bite.
"Chicken doesn't do it, turkey doesn't do it, cod doesn't do it, but any mammals that we eat, is a problem."
The theory is the body's reaction to the tick bite produces an antibody that binds to a specific sugar found in red meat. That antibody can stay in the system. When the patient eats red meat, it releases histamine. It's a chemical which triggers symptoms like itching, hives, even severe shortness of breath. But unlike other allergies, this particular reaction may be delayed for several hours.
Scientists think the fat in the meat slows the effect of the histamine. Of course, not everyone bitten by a tick will have this reaction. But scientists say they understand now why some people's reaction after a meal is instead traced back to a tick bite.
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