Tick Bites Cause Severe Red Meat Allergy
by Chris Conte
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Doctors at Vanderbilt University Medical Center said lone star ticks are to blame for an increasing number of people being diagnosed with a severe food allergy which leaves them unable to eat red meat.
"And to develop this kind of allergy late in life it's just crazy because you're used to a routine, you're used to going to the grocery store and knowing what you can buy. Now it's a process to buy everything," explained September Norman who was bitten by a lone start tick last year.
September didn't think much of the tick bite she received in June 2013 until a month later when she woke up in the middle of the night swollen with hives and unable to breathe.
"They said I was probably 20 minutes from dying at that point, so it was scary. All from one tick," the 55-year-old chef said.
Doctors eventually discovered September is part of a growing number of people across the mid-south plagued by an 'Alpha-Gal' allergy they develop after being bitten by a lone star tick.
"Now when I go into the yard to work I'm very diligent about wearing bug spray because getting bit again would make my sensitivity even worse," she added.
There is no cure for the severe food allergy September now suffers from, she has to completely avoid red meat and other dairy products - if she doesn't, she will break out in hives.
"This is to the point that if I didn't make those changes, I'd die," September said.
"Certainly a lot of people who get tick bites do not get this condition fortunately but it is definitely an important issue on the list of bad things that can happen from tick bites," said Dr. Robert Valet who treated September at Vanderbilt.
Dr. Valet said Tennessee is the epicenter for this outbreak simply because of the high number of ticks found through out the state.
"This is something that we're seeing several new patients every week," the doctor said.
September has started a blog and cook book to help others dealing with the problem. More information can be found here: http://theunintentionaldiet.blogspot.com/