"Bewildering" and "terrifying" is how some people are describing their sudden allergic reaction to their favorite red meat.

The Associated Press is reporting that it was initially believed more than 100,000 people in the U.S. have become allergic to red meat since 2010. A follow-up report says that number could be much higher.

What Causes Someone To Be Allergic To Red Meat?

According to the Associated Press, as many as 450,000 Americans are now believed to have developed a red meat allergy after they were bitten by ticks.

The data was taken from a recent report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

"Health officials said they are not aware of any confirmed deaths, but people with the allergy have described it as bewildering and terrifying," the Associated Press story states.

What Type Of Tick Is Causing The Red Meat Allergy?

According to the Washington Post, it is believed the lone star tick is the insect most closely related to the spread of the allergy.

The CDC describes the lone star as being a "very aggressive tick that bites humans." The tick is known to be widespread throughout the eastern United States, but is most common in the South.

The Mayo Clinic credits deer for carrying the lone star ticks out of the South and into new parts of the country.

A adult female lone star tick can be identified by a white dot or "lone star" on her back according to the CDC. This is important since the adult female and the nymph are what typically bite humans.


How Are Ticks Causing Meat Allergies?

The Mayo Clinic says the bite of a tick can trigger a condition called alpha-gal syndrome.

"The bite transfers a sugar molecule called alpha-gal into the body," the Mayo Clinic reports on its website. "It causes mild to severe allergic reactions to red meat such as beef, pork or lamb."

Basically, the tick's spit gets in you and gives you a nasty allergy making you not want to eat red meat.

BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The Mayo Clinic lists the following as being symptoms of alpha-gal syndrome:

  • Hives, itching or itchy, scaly skin
  • Swelling of the lips, face tongue and throat, or other body parts
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath
  • Stomach pain, upset stomach or vomiting

Alpha-gal syndrome can be detected by a blood test. Experts suggest seeing a medical professional if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.

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