Can a Lone Star Tick Make You Allergic to Meat?
Besides being a nuisance for pets, ticks can pose a danger to humans. Ticks are known to spread certain diseases, such as Lyme disease, when they feed on the blood of their victims. It is important to note that not all ticks carry all diseases, however, when they do, they are specific to that species of tick. You may have even heard of a certain tick, the lone star tick, being able to spread a meat allergy to unsuspecting humans. But is this actually true?
Identifying the lone star tick and tips for preventing bitesBefore we go into any detail about the medical implications that could be caused by a lone star tick bite, it’s important to understand how to recognize the lone star tick. The following are distinct physical and behavioral characteristics of the lone star tick that can help you identify it:
- ● Appearance: Adult lone star ticks are brown or a gray-brown, with eight legs and about a quarter of an inch in size. The males can sometimes be mistaken for other common ticks such as the American dog tick and the brown dog tick, because they can be of similar size and color and lack any distinct markings. The female lone star tick, however, does have a distinct mark: a singular silvery-white spot near the center of her back.
- ● Feeding behavior and habitat: Lone star ticks, like other ticks, feed on blood. Because they prefer mammalian hosts such as deer and raccoons, they are often found in wooded areas.
- ● Location in the U.S.: The lone star tick can widely be found across the midwestern, southeastern, and eastern areas of the United States.
While it’s important to know how to identify the lone star tick (especially if you think you’ve been bitten by one), it’s also important to know and follow these steps from the CDC to avoid tick bites:
- ● Wear light-colored long-sleeve shirts and pants outdoors where ticks may be
- ● Keep the bottom of the pant secure by tying it or tucking into shoes
- ● Wear a hat, tucking long hair into it
- ● Use tick repellent on arms and the lower body
- ● Inspect yourself, children, and pets for ticks upon coming indoors
Though these steps can help you avoid tick bites that could cause disease or meat allergy (more on this below), ticks themselves can be difficult to control. That’s why it’s important to contact a professional for outdoor tick services. .
Can a lone star tick make you allergic to meat?
Yes, it is believed that ticks can spread meat allergies. While it may seem like something out of a science-fiction movie, a bite from this parasite can sometimes, though rarely, result in a specific reaction that makes people allergic to red meat. According to Columbia University Irving Medical Center, this is because of a specific type of allergy called alpha-gal allergy. As with other allergies, if a reaction is serious enough it can sometimes be fatal. Lone star ticks transmit the allergen when they pass the alpha-gal carbohydrate molecule to a human upon biting them. If this happens during a tick bite, a person will usually respond by producing a large amount of IgE antibodies. The alpha-gal carbohydrate molecule is also found in red meat. And so, after being bitten by a lone star tick that transmits this molecule, one’s body might react in a similar manner and overproduce antibodies the next time they are exposed to the molecule. That is, the next time they consume red meat.
What to do if you think you have a tick bite
The CDC has several helpful resources when it comes to ticks, including a set of recommendations on what symptoms to look out for that could indicate that you may have been bitten by a tick. These symptoms include:
- ● Fever and chills
- ● Aches and pains
- ● Any of the distinct rashes associated with certain tick bites such as the one associated with Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) and the southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI)
The CDC recommends that if you know you have been bitten by a tick or suspect that you have and recognize any of the symptoms they list, you should contact your doctor immediately in order to receive professional medical guidance and treatment.
What to do if you think you have ticks
Though there are the methods of tick bite prevention listed in the earlier section, it is better to have a complete program which includes addressing areas where ticks live. A pest professional can help identify and provide service for areas where ticks live.. If you believe you may have ticks in your yard, don’t wait to contact Terminix. A Terminix pest professional will be able to inspect your yard for ticks and help keep these potentially dangerous ectoparasites at bay. Contact us for questions and additional information regarding our tick services