When we think about outdoor pests like mosquitoes and ticks we often think that most bites are harmless, annoying and itchy but harmless. Well, not the bite of the Lone Star Tick, which can leave you with a severe allergy to red meat. It sounds crazy but it's true and the ticks are starting to migrate across the northern US.
The allergy is known as the "alpha-gal" allergy which is named after a sugar found in cows and pigs. If a tick takes a bite off one of those animals and then bites you then your chances are high that you will get the "alpha-gal".
Another major issue is that you may not know you have the allergy until you try and eat red meat and then the symptoms can come on quickly. Most patients who have been diagnosed have to carry an epi-pen and have their blood levels checked regularly for the "alpha-gal". It is unknown if the result of the bite is a permanent affliction or one that can go away with time. However, it is best not to take any chances when going outdoors and that is even in your own backyard.
The Lone Star Tick doesn't seem to be slowing in migration. The Lone Star tick's geography stretches from the Western half of Texas, as far North as Northeastern Nebraska and as far East as Eastern Maine.
Map by CDC
Courtesy of Mosquito and Cooling Systems