Archive for the ‘Alpha Gal Meat Allergy’ Category

Sudden Red Meat Allergy Made Eating Painful For Mom and It’s All Because of a Tick Bite

Sudden Red Meat Allergy Made Eating Painful For Mom And It’s All Because Of A Tick Bite

red meat allergy lone star tick bite

Featured Image: Youtube/Inside Edition

A red meat allergy seemed to come out of nowhere and suddenly made eating painful for Janine Baumiller. And the cause is truly shocking. A lone star tick bite is behind all of the mom’s agony!

Mother of two Janine Baumiller of Long Island, New York sits watching her family enjoy juicy burgers. But she can’t take part herself. And it’s all because of a red meat allergy she never had before.

RELATED: Grieving Family Cautions Others Of Tick Bites After Losing 2-Year-Old

All of a sudden, any time Janine ate red meat, she’d later break out in hives all over, as well as experience severe burning under her skin. But what was even more shocking than Janine’s sudden reaction to red meat was why it was happening.

The allergy developed all because, at some point, Janine got bit by a lone star tick. A bite from this particular tick can activate an allergy to red meat, and in some cases, dairy, too.

WATCH: Lone Star Tick Bite Causes Red Meat Allergy

Janine now has to abstain from all red meat, sticking instead to poultry, fish, and veggies. And she’s not alone.

Kristie Downen of Springfield, Missouri, had the same experience.

“Food started hurting. It got to the point where my stomach would swell up, I was vomiting,” she said. “It’s still unbelievable that a tick would make you allergic to food.”

Experts call it the alpha-gal allergy and alarmingly, it’s on the rise. Up from 3,500 cases three years ago, there are now 5,000 known cases just in the U.S.

“It does seem like it’s really growing,” said Dr. Scott Commins, allergist and associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.

More On The Lone Star Tick

The alpha-gal allergy comes from a bite from the lone star tick — “a very aggressive tick that bites humans” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It appears the range of this tick is expanding,” Dr. Commins went on to say. “I also think it’s driven by folks are just encouraged to go outside more and perhaps they have more tick bites.”

The lone star tick is primarily found in the southeastern and eastern U.S., but is also starting to move further north. A white spot on the back of the lone star tick is what helps distinguish it from other ticks.

red meat allergy lone star tick bite

Dr. Thomas Platts-Mills, of allergy and clinical immunology at the University of Virginia, is the one who helped make the link between the lone star tick and the alpha-gal allergy. He, too, was bit and suffers from the red meat allergy.

Dr. Platts-Mills believes we’re seeing more of these ticks and the allergy it carries because of the increased deer population. A deer can carry up to 500 ticks and Dr. Platts-Mills says most of those are going to be the lone star tick.

“We’ve got deer on the lawns and they’re dropping these ticks everywhere,” Dr. Platts-Mills says.

Another interesting fact Dr. Platts-Mills points out is that most ticks are specific to a particular animal and prefer biting the animal to humans. But that’s not the case for the lone star tick.

“The lone star tick really does like humans,” Dr. Platts-Mills said.

More On The Tick-Induced Red Meat Allergy

Experts aren’t sure if the alpha-gal allergy is caused by one bite or multiple bites from a lone star tick. But they do know anyone can develop the reaction, even children.

Symptoms of the allergy often occur several hours after consuming red meat like beef, pork or lamb. Sometimes the allergy also includes a sensitivity to dairy, especially heavy-fat dairy like ice cream.

Someone suffering from the allergy can break out into hives, redness, itching and swelling, and even strong stomach cramping. Some can even have an anaphylactic reaction, which is life-threatening and requires the use of an Epi-pen.

The good news is the allergy typically goes away after two or three years. And those who suffer from it can still eat meat from fish, chicken, and turkey.

“If it swims or flies, it’s fine,” Dr. Commins said.

Doctors are also working on a vaccine, though it will be several more years before it’s ready.

Expert Tips For Avoiding Tick Bites

  • Ticks prefer heavier vegetation. So try to keep the grass in your yard from getting too tall. Avoid hiking or playing in heavily wooded areas as much as possible.
  • Try to keep skin covered with long sleeves and pants when venturing into the woods or thick grasses.
  • Try using a safe bug spray that repels ticks.
  • After spending time outdoors, do a thorough check of both your clothes and body, then take a shower.
  • Use a plastic baggie to save any ticks you find on your body, especially if you suspect you’ve been bitten. Look for the white dot on the back to identify a lone star tick.
  • If you suspect you’ve been bitten, keep an eye out for symptoms and keep in mind the reaction from the red meat allergy occurs several hours after eating. Doctors can perform a simple blood test to confirm the allergy.

Please be sure to share this story with others to raise awareness of the lone star tick and the red meat allergy.

h/t: Today

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For more:  https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2019/06/30/lone-star-tick-known-to-cause-red-meat-allergy-found-in-northern-wisconsin-report/  Yes, Martha, this fun-sucking tick is here in Wisconsin.

https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2017/01/12/tick-related-red-meat-allergy-found-in-minnesota-wisconsin/

https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2019/05/20/how-a-tick-bite-can-give-you-a-red-meat-allergy/

https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2018/05/04/arkansas-woman-develops-deadly-meat-allergy-after-tick-bite/ For some, it’s way more than just red meat. For this woman, she had to omit ALL animal products, even ones found in supplements and personal care products.

 

Lone Star Tick, Known to Cause Red Meat Allergy, Found in Northern Wisconsin: Report

https://www.foxnews.com/health/lone-star-tick-wisconsin-red-meat-allergy

Lone Star tick, known to cause red meat allergy, found in northern Wisconsin: report

By Madeline Farber for Fox News. You can follow her on Twitter @MaddieFarberUDK.

The Lone Star tick, a type of tick that’s known to cause some people it bites to develop an allergy to red meat, has reportedly been found in northern Wisconsin — a rare occurrence as these small arachnids aren’t typically found in the state. 

The tick was purportedly spotted near Eau Claire County, per local news Channel 3000. Lone Star ticks, which are not native to the state and are named for the white spot on the back of adult females, are sometimes reported in the southern half of Wisconsin, if at all, according to the Department of Entomology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Susan Paskewitz, the chair of the Entomology Department at the university, told Channel 3000 the Lone Star tick reported likely found its way north by attaching itself to a bird or other animal that later made its way to the area.

Last summer, Scott Commins — an allergist and associate professor of medicine at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and one of the first physicians to discover the connection between Lone Star tick bites and the alpha-gal meat allergy —  told Fox News the allergy caused by a Lone Star tick bite is relatively rare. That said, the number of cases has sharply increased from the roughly two dozen he and his colleagues first studied in 2009.

LONE STAR TICK BITES TRIGGERING RED MEAT ALLERGIES IN MORE PEOPLE ACROSS US, PHYSICIAN SAYS

Commins offered a few different reasons for the increase.

First, doctors can now perform a blood test that detects the allergy, “which has made the diagnosis much easier,” he said.

A Lone Star tick. (iStock)

A Lone Star tick. (iStock)

Additionally, the “range of the Lone Star tick is increasing and expanding,” Commins said, which ultimately increases the chance of getting bitten. Higher costs of living could partly be to blame, causing more people in recent years to trade urban life for the suburbs. This movement results in closer contact with tick-carrying deer, which subsequently increases the chance for tick bites.

Commins also said a heightened awareness about the allergy has led those with symptoms to talk to their doctor and investigate if a Lone Star tick bite could be the cause.

Though it’s not totally clear how Lone Star tick bites sometimes result in the allergy, Commins said the tick’s saliva may be a factor.

“There’s a common pathogen in all of these ticks,” he said at the time.  “It could be a protein or enzyme in tick spit. We’re working on that in the lab at the moment.”

Not unlike the symptoms of a peanut, egg, tree nut or a shellfish allergy, many people who are allergic to red meat may experience hives, a skin rash or anaphylaxis.

Commins warned many also experience “severe GI [gastrointestinal] distress,” such as stomach pain, indigestion, vomiting and diarrhea. Some people have described their gastrointestinal symptoms as “stabbing pain or [being stuck with] a hot poker,” he added.

COLORADO GIRL, 7, DIAGNOSED WITH RARE TICK PARALYSIS AFTER OVERNIGHT CAMP

That said, the symptoms of a red meat allergy are not always immediate. In fact, Commins said, it usually takes hours after eating red meat for the symptoms to appear.

There is no cure for the allergy at this time; the most those with the allergy can do is to avoid red meat, which includes beef, lamb, pork, veal, and goat, among others.

But the news isn’t all bad.

“There is a bright spot in this; this is one of these food allergies that will resolve over time,” he said, though he noted additional tick bites may prolong the condition.

**Comment**
Another example of a tick in a place it’s not supposed to be.
BTW: this isn’t the first time it’s been found in Northern Wisconsin:  https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2017/01/12/tick-related-red-meat-allergy-found-in-minnesota-wisconsin/  Excerpt:
According to Dr. Alaaddin Kandeel, an allergist at Essentia Health in Duluth, he’s diagnosed 18 patients with alpha-gal allergy – 10 from northeast Minnesota and 8 from northwest Wisconsin – hardly accepted Lone Star territory.  In the audio he states he diagnoses approximately 1 patient per month with Alpha-gal allergy and that the reactions can be severe, from passing out to life-threatening reactions.
One patient a month.  NOT RARE.

And while tick borne diseases are reportable by law, allergies like the alpha-gal allergy are not, so nobody truly knows prevalence.

Doctors should NEVER use a map to turn a patient away who is presenting with symptoms. If they do, turn them in to the authorities.
Many people do not know it isn’t just meat those with Alpha Gal have to avoid.
Anything derived from animals can cause the allergic symptoms including gelatin, daily vitamin supplements, shampoos & conditioners, lotions, & vaccines.
This woman limits her diet and uses vegan supplements, medications and personal care products:  https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2018/05/04/arkansas-woman-develops-deadly-meat-allergy-after-tick-bite/
This is about the worst news possible for Wisconsinites whom can handle pain like nobody on the planet, and keep a stiff upper lip that many would collapse under, but take away our meat, cheese, and beer, and we are an absolute mess!
iu-19

How a Tick Bite Can Give You a Red Meat Allergy

https://www.consumerreports.org/outdoor-safety/how-a-tick-bite-can-give-you-a-red-meat-allergy/

How a Tick Bite Can Give You a Red Meat Allergy

Scientists think that lone star ticks can induce an allergy to red meat. Here’s how to protect yourself.

A close-up of a lone star tick, and an image of ground beef.

Most of us worry about Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever when getting a tick bite. But different species of ticks can transmit a variety of diseases—and at least one very unusual ailment, scientists have learned: an allergy to red meat.

A growing body of evidence shows that the lone star tick—most prevalent in the southeastern U.S.—could be the cause of an allergy to a carbohydrate known as alpha-gal, which is found in red meat.

Scientists aren’t sure just how common this allergy is. But lone star ticks are spreading—their habitat now extends from the Southeast almost all the way to the Canadian border—which means more people may encounter them. Scientists who study the alpha-gal allergy estimated back in 2013 that more than 5,000 people in the Southeast U.S. alone could have the allergy.

2018 study in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology suggests that a meat allergy caused by ticks may be more common than previously known, and could explain some previously unexplained cases of severe allergic reactions.

Here’s what you need to know about this allergy.

What Recent Research Reveals

Initially, scientists connected the dots between lone star ticks and meat allergies because of overlap between the geographic areas where the tick and the allergy were most common, according to an analysis published earlier this year in Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Other studies showed that people who had the allergy tended to have a history of being bitten by ticks, or worked in jobs where they were likely to be exposed to ticks.

And in two recent cases reported in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, people who had an allergic reaction to red meat developed hives around the area where they had been previously bitten by a tick.

The 2018 study looked at just one allergy clinic in Tennessee, and found that in cases where they were able to pinpoint the cause, the alpha-gal allergy was behind about a third of anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction) cases seen there between 2006 and 2016. That’s more than were caused by food allergies to peanuts, shellfish, or others, the researchers found.

Study author Jay Lieberman, M.D., associate professor at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and vice chair of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Food Allergy Committee, is quick to point out that these results do not mean that a third of severe allergic reactions nationwide are due to the effects of lone star tick bites, or that alpha gal is the number one cause of anaphylaxis in the country.

But Lieberman says the clinic has performed similar analyses in previous years, before the alpha-gal red meat allergy was discovered. In those earlier studies, doctors weren’t able to determine a cause for a greater percentage of anaphylaxis cases.

The newer study suggests that a significant number of those earlier cases with an unknown cause may actually have been due to this recently discovered allergy.

Understanding Meat Allergies

It’s not entirely clear to scientists why a bite from a tick could cause a person to develop an allergy to red meat, Lieberman says, or how common such an allergy is. And it doesn’t happen to everybody who’s bitten.

Only some people who’ve been bitten by lone star ticks will develop the antibodies that indicate a possible allergy to alpha-gal, a substance in red meat. Of the people who do develop those antibodies, Lieberman says, some won’t ever show symptoms of an allergic reaction to red meat.

There’s also an intriguing difference between the alpha-gal red meat allergy and every other type of food allergy. Typically, allergic reactions to food occur immediately after exposure, within a few minutes. With an alpha-gal allergy, however, a reaction typically doesn’t start until several hours after eating red meat—which can make it challenging to pinpoint the culprit.

Researchers first linked tick bites to red meat allergies almost a decade ago. But there are still a lot of questions left to answer about why some people develop the allergy and some don’t, how many people have been affected, and why the reaction to red meat is delayed, rather than immediate.

What to Watch For

Early signs of anaphylaxis may include a metallic taste, burning, tingling, or itching of the tongue or mouth, headache, and feelings of fear or confusion. A reaction can progress quickly, and severe symptoms include throat swelling, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, and more.

If you think you may be experiencing anaphylaxis, even if you’ve never had an allergic reaction before, you should call 911. (If you know you have an allergy to food, and you experience symptoms of anaphylaxis, especially trouble breathing, wheezing, or throat swelling, you should use an epinephrine auto-injector if you have one.)

When the reaction is under control, talk to your doctor about whether red meat could have been the cause of your symptoms, since some doctors may not be aware of the alpha-gal allergy, suggests Princess Ogbogu, M.D., division director of allergy and immunology at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

There’s no cure for red meat allergy, so if you’re diagnosed, you’ll need to avoid the foods that trigger a reaction. Commonly, that includes various kinds of red meats. But some people can also become sensitive to other items that contain alpha-gal, including dairy, and even, rarely, sweets that contain gelatin or medications derived from animal byproducts.

In some cases, Lieberman says, if people who’ve developed alpha- gal allergies avoid all future tick bites from lone star ticks (or the varieties that cause the allergy in other countries), their levels of the antibodies to alpha-gal may diminish, and the allergy could subside. It’s unknown how common this is, however.

About the Lone Star Tick

Lone star ticks, so named for the white splotch on the backs of adult females, are most common in southern and eastern states. Like other ticks, however, their geographic distribution is expanding, according to Ellen Stromdahl, a retired entomologist from the tickborne disease laboratory of the U.S. Army Public Health Center in Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

Lone star ticks don’t cause Lyme disease, as a recent analysis that Stromdahl conducted shows. But along with spreading the alpha-gal allergy, they can also transmit the bacteria that cause another disease called ehrlichiosis. Ehrlichiosis can cause fever, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, and, rarely, rash. It’s fatal in about 1.8 percent of cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, although it can be treated with antibiotics.

A lone star tick is much less likely to carry ehrlichiosis than a blacklegged tick is likely to carry Lyme disease, notes Stromdahl. But lone star ticks are much more aggressive than other common types of ticks in the U.S. “You’re more likely to be mobbed by lone star ticks,” she says, and finding multiple bites is common if you’ve been in their habitat.

Protect Yourself From Ticks

As with any tick bite, it’s important not to panic if you discover one, Lieberman says. “The vast majority in this country and elsewhere who get bitten by ticks don’t develop alpha-gal allergy,” he says.

Still, you can take reasonable precautions to protect yourself from ticks and the diseases—or allergies—they can cause. Here’s what to do:

Wear an effective bug spray if you’re going to be in an area where ticks are common. Lone star and other types of ticks prefer wooded areas, brush, and long grass. Consumer Reports’ insect repellent testing has found that products containing 25 to 30 percent deet provide the most reliable protection. (Check out our top-rated repellents.)

Dress carefully. Wear long pants and long sleeves, and tuck your pants into your socks. Wearing clothing commercially treated with the pesticide permethrin, or treating your clothes and gear with permethrin yourself, is also a good option for additional protection.

Check yourself for ticks at the end of every day you’ve been out in their territory. Taking a shower soon after you come in is a good opportunity to wash away any ticks that may be crawling on your skin without having yet bitten you, and to carefully look for any that have attached. If you find them on you, remove them properly.

Be careful with the clothes you were wearing in tick habitats, Stromdahl recommends. Run them through a cycle in a hot dryer to kill any ticks that may be clinging on, and leave your shoes outside in the sun.

Allergic Reaction Sparks Award-winning Science Fair Project For Missouri Teen

https://www.wpsdlocal6.com/2019/04/10/allergic-reaction-sparks-award-winning-science-fair-project-for-missouri-teen/  News Video Within Link

Allergic reaction sparks award-winning science fair project for Missouri teen

JACKSON, MO — It all started with a tick bite for one southeast Missouri teenager. That bite caused a life-threating food allergy. It resulted in an award-winning science fair project.

Grant Roseman is a home-schooler in Jackson, Missouri. Grant will represent southeast Missouri in Arizona at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in May.

“For me, personally, I usually get hives that can last up to two weeks, and I’ve had anaphylactic shock before,” Grant says.

A  bite from a tick made him allergic to red meat.

“It made me really want to figure out how these ticks were getting on humans so much,” he says.

If you check out Grant’s science fair board, you can see he experimented with six different ticks. His goal was to show which one is attracted to carbon dioxide gas the most.

He used dry ice, frozen carbon dioxide gas, to represent the carbon dioxide gas produced by humans.

“I would set the ticks down, and release them with the dry ice on the other end, and see which ones got the farthest,” Grant says.

Here’s what he discovered.

“The Lone Star Tick — the one that causes an allergy — it’s the most aggressive,” Grant says.

Bottom line? The Lone Star Tick seeks out you and your family all because you produce carbon dioxide gas.

“So, the way it detects you is with two organs called the Haller’s organ. Those can detect carbon dioxide, heat, and movement,” he explains.

His research earned him first place at the SEMO Science Fair. Next stop, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

__________________

**Comment**

I’m telling you – it’s the tsunami of the infected who are going to move this mountain!

Well done Mr. Roseman! I’m rooting for you!

 

 

Study Shows Most Common Cause of Anaphylaxis is Alpha Gal

https://www.news-medical.net/news/20180730/Study-finds-tick-bite-meat-allergy-as-most-common-cause-of-anaphylaxis.aspx

Study finds tick bite meat allergy as most common cause of anaphylaxis

An increase in the Lone Star tick population since 2006, and the ability to recognize the ticks as the source of “alpha gal” allergy to red meat has meant significantly more cases of anaphylaxis being properly identified.

A new study in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the scientific publication of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) showed that at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, alpha-gal ( a complex sugar found in red meat from beef, pork, venison, etc.) was the most common known cause of anaphylaxis. In previous studies of anaphylaxis, researchers were often unable to identify the source of the severe allergic reaction.

“Of the 218 cases of anaphylaxis we reviewed, 33 percent were from alpha gal,” says Debendra Pattanaik, MD, lead author of the study. “When we did the same review in 1993, and again in 2006, we had a great many cases where the cause of the anaphylaxis couldn’t be identified. That number of unidentified cases dropped from 59 percent in 2006 to 35 percent in this report – probably from the number of identified alpha gal cases. Our research clearly identified alpha gal as the cause of anaphylaxis in the majority of cases where the cause was detected. Food allergies were the second leading cause, accounting for 24 percent.”

The people in the study were seen between 2006 and 2016. The study notes that alpha gal allergy was first identified in 2008, so previous reviews wouldn’t have taken it into consideration. Due to increased awareness of red meat allergy, and more diagnostic testing available, alpha gal allergy went from an unknown entity to the most commonly identified cause of anaphylaxis at this center.

“We understand that Tennessee is a state with a big population of Lone Star ticks, and that might have influenced the large number of alpha gal cases we identified,” says allergist Jay Lieberman, MD, vice chair of the ACAAI Food Allergy Committee and a study co-author. “The Lone Star tick is predominantly found in the southeastern United States and we would expect a higher frequency of anaphylaxis cases in this region would be due to alpha gal. However, the tick can be found in many states outside this region and there are already more cases being reported nationwide.”

The remainder of the cases of anaphylaxis in the study were attributed to insect venom (18 percent) exercise (6 percent) systemic mastocystosis (6 percent) medications (4 percent) and other (3 percent).

A bite from the Lone Star tick can cause people to develop an allergy to red meat, including beef, pork and venison. The allergy is best diagnosed with a blood test. Although allergic reactions to foods typically occur rapidly, within 60 minutes of eating the food, in the case of allergic reactions to alpha-gal, symptoms often take several hours to develop. Because of the significant delay between eating red meat and the appearance of an allergic reaction, it can be a challenge to connect the culprit foods to symptoms. Therefore, an expert evaluation from an allergist familiar with the condition is recommended.

Allergists are specially trained to test for, diagnose and treat allergies. To find an allergist near you who can help create a personal plan to deal with your allergies and asthma, use the ACAAI allergist locator.

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For more on Alpha Gal:  https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2017/01/12/tick-related-red-meat-allergy-found-in-minnesota-wisconsin/  Yes, Martha, it’s here in Wisconsin.

https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2018/07/28/what-the-mystery-of-the-tick-borne-meat-allergy-could-reveal/

https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2018/06/27/alpha-gal-perioperative-management/

https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2018/01/16/a-strange-itch-trouble-breathing-then-anaphylactic-shock/

https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2018/05/04/arkansas-woman-develops-deadly-meat-allergy-after-tick-bite/  As Meritt points out on the Allergy & Asthma Clinic of Northwest Arkansas’ website, the alpha-gal allergy extends to beef, pork, gelatin and products that contain mammalian ingredients.  “That includes dairy products,” Burton said. “Mammal biproducts are in everything — daily vitamin supplements, shampoo, conditioners, hand and body lotions … all those things were keeping my system agitated. Pork or beef would just put it over the edge.”
A lot of vaccines are either made with animal products or have gelatin in it.

Tickology Video Series – Everything You Want to Know About Ticks & Prevention

Entomologist Larry Dapsis, Deer Tick Project Coordinator, of Cape Cod Cooperative Extension presents information about numerous types of ticks and the diseases they carry in the following Tickology video series.

Tickology

 Approx. 9 Min

Tick Identification & Ecology

Take aways:

  1. Female American Dog Tick is easy to spot as she has a creamy white wide spot up by the head.
  2. Female Lone Star tick has a bright white spot in the center of her back.
  3. Female Deer Tick has a bright red abdomen.
  4. A lot of this info is shared again in part 3 below where I have more notes.

 Approx. 12:30 Min.

Tick Borne Diseases

Take aways:

  1. He considers the American Dog Tick more of a nuisance than a threat.  I disagree.  Just ask anyone who’s ever had RMSF or Tularemia, both of which can kill you.
  2. The Deer Tick (Black legged tick) is endemic in 80 countries and has been here for thousands of years.
  3. Lyme is found in 49 out of 50 states in the U.S. (absent only in Hawaii)
  4. In 2016 the CDC adjusted Lyme prevalence to 300,000 new cases of Lyme a year.
  5. Martha’s Vineyard has more cases than anywhere in the universe.
  6. Risk of infection is year round.
  7. Largest risk is from the nymph as they are smaller and the bite is difficult to detect.   He is finding about 25% to be infected with Lyme.  50% of adults are infected.
  8. In Massachusetts, children ages 5-9 have the highest rates of infection.  Adults aged 50-70 has a surge of infection as well.
  9. Babesiosis, similar to Malaria, can be passed via blood transfusion with 50% of Massachusetts cases found in the south eastern part of the state and virtually found in some degree in every county in the state.
  10. Anaplasmosis (HGA) can look similar to Lyme and is more broadly distributed in Mass.
  11. All these diseases are steadily increasing.  95% of cases are aged 65 and older.
  12. Borrelia miyamotoi, related to Lyme, is a relapsing fever.  3% of Cape Cod ticks have it but is expected to increase.
  13. Powassan can put you in the hospital with brain swelling.  They did surveillance and found Powassan in 4 out of 6 site sites with infection rates as high as 10% in the tick population.  In reading the literature, he feels it has been on Cape Cod for thousands of years but it hasn’t been on medical radar.

  Approx. 8 Min.

Lone Star Tick – The New Tick in Town

Part 3 of the Tickology video project.

Take aways:

  1. The Lone Star Tick, normally considered a Southern tick, is in Cape Cod, and has moved North, and yes, is in Wisconsin.
  2. The adult female has a white dot on her back
  3. These ticks can run and are aggressive, fast & will actually chase you.  
  4. While he mentions a warming climate, independent Canadian tick researcher, John Scott, states emphatically temperature has nothing to do with tick expansion:  https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2018/08/13/study-shows-lyme-not-propelled-by-climate-change/
  5. He claims Lone Star ticks have been established in Sandy Neck Beach Park and Shining Sea Bike Trail for a long time – it’s just nobody was looking for them.  I suspect this to be true for many other areas as well.
  6. He claims these areas are “perfect flyways” for migratory birds for transporting ticks.
  7. Lone Star ticks prefer intermediate size hosts.  He put out video surveillance and picked up wild turkeys in areas where these ticks were established.  Rabbits & coyotes are good hosts as well
  8. The adult female lays a cluster of 4,000-5,000 eggs,  which leaves a high concentration of larvae in late summer.  He claims when you find one, it could be a matter of minutes and you could have 200-300 bites.
  9. He claims Lone Star tick larvae do not transmit pathogens.
  10. The adults; however, can transmit Erlichiosis, STARI, Tularemia and Alpha Gal or meat allergy (all animal products).
  11. He claims you will not find deer ticks in an open lawn.  I was told otherwise by Susan Paskewitz, chair of the Department of Entomology at UW–Madison, whose crew is finding them in fields where kids are playing sports, and it’s here as well: https://newyork.cbslocal.com/2018/05/07/ticks-lyme-disease-cdc-putnam-county/
  12. He is finding Lone Star ticks in open spaces.  They don’t mind the heat.  Deer ticks will seek out leaf litter and/or snow when conditions are harsh.

 Approx. 13:22 Min

Permethrin Treated Clothing & Footwear

Take aways:

  1. Natural Pyrethrum is from the Aster Family, & is an extract from a type of chrysanthemum.  It has quick knockdown against insects but no residual control.  Breaks down in sunlight quickly.
  2. They manipulated it so now it has 4 weeks of residual control.
  3. You only use it on clothing and footwear.  He feels treating footwear to be crucial.  If a tick is on a treated surface with permethrin for 60 seconds it will die.  He feels strongly that using this product will reduce your exposure tick bites by upwards of 90%.  It is active thru 6 washings or 45 days which ever comes first.
  4. Pre-treated tick repellent clothing is also available.  EPA testing has shown it is active through 70 washings.  You can also send your clothing to “Insect Shield,” and they will treat your clothing and send it back with the 70 washing claim.  He says it’s about $10 per clothing item.
  5. It’s not the molecule that makes the poison, it’s the dosage.  As far as permethrin goes, there is low mammal toxicity except for cats.  It is 2,250 times more toxic to ticks than to humans.  According to the EPA, permethrin-treated clothing poses no harm to infants, children, pregnant women, or nursing mothers.
  6. Permethrin has low skin absorption and is metabolized quickly.
  7. National Research Council looked at long term exposure on the military wearing permethrin saturated clothing from head to foot for 18 hours a day for 10 years and found no reason for an adverse effect.
  8. The active ingredient is the same ingredient used for treating scabies and head lice and parents smear it on their kids from head to toe.
  9. He demonstrates how to apply it onto clothing and footwear.  Scroll to 10:00.  Make sure to wash these treated cloths away from other clothes.  Remember sunlight breaks it down so it lasts through 6 washings for 45 days, which ever comes first.
  10. He sprays the inside of the legs in case a tick gets underneath.  I tuck my pants into my white sprayed socks so ticks can not get inside.

 Approx. 6 Min

Skin Repellents

Take aways:

  1. The big distinction between repellents is the EPA registration.  Deet, Picaridan, IR 3535, and Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus have EPA registration with data on file for any claim being made.
  2. Go here for the EPA selection guide:  https://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/find-repellent-right-you  (Fill in the questionnaire)
  3. Go to www.npic.orst.edu for pesticide information.
  4. Go to capecodextension.org for short factual answers on products.
  5. Naturals are not EPA registered so there is no data proving effectiveness.  Not all repel ticks.  Buyer beware.

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For more on tick prevention:  https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2017/05/11/tick-prevention-and-removal-2017/

https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2018/06/06/mc-bugg-z/

https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2018/05/27/study-conforms-permethrin-causes-ticks-to-drop-off-clothing/  “All tested tick species and life stages experienced the ‘hot-foot’ effect after coming into contact with permethrin-treated clothing,” Eisen said. 

https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2018/04/03/fire-good-news-for-tick-reduction/  Study found a 78-98% reduction in ticks.
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0112174 These data indicate that regular prescribed burning is an effective tool for reducing tick populations and ultimately may reduce risk of tick-borne disease.

 

 

What the Mystery of the Tick-Borne Meat Allergy Could Reveal

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/24/magazine/what-the-mystery-of-the-tick-borne-meat-allergy-could-reveal.html

Feature

His wife wasn’t home, so he drove himself to the university hospital emergency room near where he lived in Chapel Hill, N.C. As he explained his symptoms at the check-in counter, he began to feel faint, then fell to one knee. An orderly offered a wheelchair. He sat down — and promptly lost consciousness.

When he came to, he was on the floor. He had rolled out of the wheelchair and hit his head. A gaggle of worried-looking medical staff stood over him. They asked if he was on drugs. Did he have heart problems? His blood pressure was extremely low, probably the reason he had passed out. Niegelsky, who was 58, told them that he was healthy and drug-free and had no heart condition.

“I could see the concern on their faces in a way that did not help my confidence level at all,” Niegelsky says.

He felt as if insects were biting every inch of his hands, armpits and groin. A doctor asked if he had any food allergies. The hives and the low blood pressure suggested anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction. Again the answer was no, but Niegelsky did recall that he had a very bad allergic reaction a month earlier to a tick bite he got at a concert.

The E.R. doctor ordered two shots of epinephrine, a form of adrenaline that dampens the allergic reaction; the hives and itching began to subside about 25 minutes later. Now the doctor asked Niegelsky what he’d eaten that day. A hamburger for lunch, Niegelsky told him. In his recollection, the doctor’s eyes widened, and he said,

“I think we know what you have” — a condition called mammalian-meat allergy.

Meat allergy was first observed in the 1990s and formally described in 2009, which makes it a relatively recent arrival to the compendium of allergic conditions. Its most curious quality may be that it is seemingly triggered by a tick bite. In America, the culprit, called the lone-star tick — females have a distinctive white splotch on their backs — is common in the warm and humid Southeast, where most cases of meat allergy have been diagnosed. Niegelsky had in fact heard about the allergy from friends. He remembers shaking his head and thinking that it sounded “made up.” He understood now, in a visceral way, how real it was. That bite from a month ago had primed his body for today’s hives and plummeting blood pressure.

Until meat allergy was recognized, the prevailing medical wisdom held that an allergic reaction to meat from mammals was extremely unusual. Unlike that from shellfish, say, meat from mammals was thought by some allergists to be too similar to human flesh for the immune system to attack it with the full fury of the allergic arsenal. In this and other respects, meat allergy is upending longstanding assumptions about how allergies work. Its existence suggests that other allergies could be initiated by arthropod bites or unexpected exposures. It also raises the possibility that other symptoms often reported by patients that clinicians might dismiss because they don’t fit into established frameworks — gluten intolerance, for example, or mucus production after drinking milk — could, similarly, be conditions that scientists simply don’t understand yet.
Mammalian-meat allergy “really has the potential to revolutionize our understanding of food allergy, because it doesn’t fall under the umbrella of our paradigm,” Dr. Maya R. Jerath, a professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine, in St. Louis, told me. “Maybe our paradigm is wrong.”
The meat-allergy story begins somewhat obliquely, with a new drug for metastatic colon cancer called cetuximab. In 2006, Thomas Platts-Mills, an allergist at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, received a phone call from a colleague. Oncologists testing cetuximab were baffled to find that nearly one in four patients had severe anaphylactic reactions to the drug. A few patients even died. The caller urged Platts-Mills to look into the mystery. He agreed and began by comparing the blood from those who had an allergic response to cetuximab with the blood from those who didn’t. The patients who reacted, he discovered, had allergic antibodies to a complex sugar called galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose, or alpha-gal for short. Most mammals produce alpha-gal; it’s a component of their cell membranes. The exceptions are African and Asian apes and monkeys. As primates of African origin, we do not produce alpha-gal, either. That makes the human immune system unusual: It can learn to see alpha-gal, present in the beef and pork and other mammalian meat we eat, as foreign and threatening, thereby allowing for an allergic response. Cetuximab contained alpha-gal, it turned out; the sugar came from the genetically modified mice used to manufacture the drug.
While Platts-Mills had identified the molecule in the drug causing these severe allergic reactions, he didn’t yet know why those patients were allergic to it. How had their immune systems become sensitized to it? Humans aren’t born allergic to anything; allergy is like a bad habit the immune system needs to learn. Many scientists suspect that our allergic machinery — the swelling of tissues, mucus production, the coughing and sneezing — served an important purpose in our evolutionary past. It probably helped us to fight off parasites. But in allergic disorders, the body unleashes this ancient anti-parasite response inappropriately against molecules that aren’t obviously dangerous (beyond their role in causing a reaction) — against cat dander or pollens or peanuts. The mystery of any allergy is how and why the immune system is first led to make this mistake.
What had primed the patients to be allergic to the alpha-gal sugar? The oncologists did have one clue: They noticed that allergic patients tended to come from the Southeast. Initially Platts-Mills thought that maybe intestinal parasites or even a mold from the region was sensitizing patients to alpha-gal. But a technician in his lab pointed out that the geographical distribution of cases matched the reported distribution of a tick-borne disease called Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
That got Platts-Mills thinking about ticks.
At the same time, he was seeing a growing number of patients in his allergy clinic, many of them hunters and outdoorsy types, complaining about what was apparently a strange reaction to eating meat. They suffered stomach pains and rashes hours later. When Platts-Mills analyzed their blood, he found that, like the cancer patients who had an allergic reaction to cetuximab, they also had allergic antibodies for alpha-gal. And when he and his colleague Scott P. Commins surveyed the patients, they found that more than 80 percent of them reported having had strong reactions to tick bites.
Independent of the research Platts-Mills was doing, in 2007 an Australian allergist named Sheryl van Nunen described 24 cases of meat allergy associated with tick bites. Colleagues were skeptical of her claims, she told me. They didn’t think an allergy to meat from mammals was very likely. And she hadn’t identified what the immune system was specifically attacking, the molecule in meat that was attracting the onslaught. That discovery fell to Platts-Mills, Commins and their colleagues. They posited that alpha-gal was the allergen that made people sick hours after eating hamburgers (or, in Australia, kangaroo steaks). And they proposed tick bites as the trigger. Ticks could explain the two seemingly disparate phenomena: why people who reacted to cetuximab came from the Southeast and why most cases of meat allergy occurred in the same region. The Southeastern lone-star tick was exposing and thus sensitizing people to the sugar through its bites. Some subset of the ectoparasite’s victims would thereafter react to alpha-gal whenever they encountered it, including in meat and cetuximab.
Platts-Mills still lacked definitive proof that a tick bite initiated the allergy. He hadn’t conducted an experiment in which, for example, he deliberately induced meat allergy in human volunteers. But one day in August 2007, he took a hike in the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains. When he got home, he discovered hundreds of larval-stage ticks feeding on his ankles. (He spent the evening removing them with a knife and Scotch tape.) Platts-Mills doesn’t eat red meat often — he had a heart attack in 2005 — but a few months after that hike, on a trip to Europe, he ate two lamb chops and had a glass of red wine.
“Six hours later I was in a hotel, covered in hives, itching like crazy and laughing at myself,” he told me. By then, he thought he knew what was happening: The ticks had made him allergic to those chops.
In 2013, on a hike and a picnic with some friends in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Platts-Mills was again swarmed by larval ticks. By this time he was already monitoring his alpha-gal antibody levels, so he was able to compare how much antibody he had circulating before and after these ticks fed on him. Post-picnic, the allergic antibodies directed at alpha-gal in his bloodstream surged more than tenfold, direct evidence that tick bites had provoked the allergic response to alpha-gal. It seemed he had cracked the case, and others around the world took note. Sheryl van Nunen, now at the University of Sydney, told me this understanding of the precise cause of mammalian-meat allergy makes it unique.
“This is really allergy in a kit — how to get it and how to lose it,” van Nunen said. “There’s really nothing else like it.”
Until meat allergy was recognized, the prevailing medical wisdom held that an allergic reaction to meat from mammals was extremely unusual.  CreditPhoto Illustration by Daan Brand

Mammalian-meat allergy differs from most other food allergies in several important ways. One is the delayed reaction; it’s not uncommon for sufferers to wake up in the middle of the night, hours after a steak dinner, covered with hives and struggling to breathe. By contrast, those with food allergies to peanuts usually develop symptoms within minutes after ingesting the offending food. And whereas in most cases of allergy, the immune system pursues a protein, meat allergy is set off by a sugar.

Another unusual aspect of meat allergy is that it can emerge after a lifetime spent eating meat without problems. In other food allergies, scientists think that children’s immune systems may never learn to tolerate the food in the first place. But in meat allergy, the tick seems to break an already established tolerance, causing the immune system to attack what it previously ignored. One way to understand how the parasite pulls this off is to consider its bite as a kind of inadvertent vaccine. A vaccine teaches an immune system to pursue a pathogen it otherwise wouldn’t by exposing it to weakened versions of that pathogen — an attenuated measles virus, say — or bits and pieces of dead pathogen. Vaccines also often contain a substance called an adjuvant, which is designed to spur the immune system into action.

In similar fashion, when the lone-star tick feeds, alpha-gal leaks from its mouth into the wound, exposing the victim’s immune system to the sugar, prompting the immune system to remember and pursue alpha-gal. But exposure to alpha-gal alone probably doesn’t achieve this feat. Commins, who is at the University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill, has identified a candidate, an enzyme in the tick’s saliva called dipeptidyl-peptidase that works as an adjuvant. It’s also common in bee and wasp venom. This enzyme, Commins argues, is what tells your immune system to see alpha-gal as the type of threat that warrants the itching and swelling of the allergic response.

Once sensitized, some victims find that they can no longer tolerate beef, pork, lamb — even milk or butter, foodstuffs with only very small amounts of alpha-gal. Several factors can also affect the severity of the allergic reaction, or if there is an allergic reaction at all. Grilled meat is less allergenic than other methods of preparation that preserve more of its fat. Fatty meat leads to more alpha-gal crossing a person’s gut barrier into his or her circulatory system, triggering a stronger immune reaction than leaner cuts. A study of German patients also found that alcohol imbibed with meat can push people toward an allergic reaction, as can exercise; both actions make the gut more permeable, exposing the immune system to more alpha-gal.

As it happens, an immune response to alpha-gal is also what drives, in part, the rejection of tissue transplanted from animals to people.

Scientists have developed genetically modified pigs meant to supply parts that can be grafted onto human bodies without eliciting an anti-alpha-gal immune reaction. Now, as awareness of the meat allergy spreads, there has been talk of using such alpha-gal-free pigs for food — pork chops your doctor can prescribe if you find yourself allergic to meat.

A recent study by scientists at the National Institutes of Health, which included Commins and Platts-Mills as co-authors, linked allergic sensitization to alpha-gal with a greater risk of arterial plaques, a hallmark of heart disease. It’s unclear whether having alpha-gal antibodies specifically increases your risk of developing plaques or whether some other factor increases a person’s risk of heart disease and sensitization to alpha-gal. But if it turns out that meat allergy pushes people toward cardiac arrest, it would imply that encounters with the lone-star tick contribute to the leading cause of death in the United States.

The big, unanswered question is why meat allergy is on the rise today. Commins estimates that at least 5,000 cases have been diagnosed in the United States, and many more probably remain undiagnosed. In some tick-heavy regions, the prevalence of meat allergy is estimated to be at least 1 percent of the population. Ticks are not new. Neither is the human consumption of meat. Why the sudden problem for so many? One possibility is that the ticks have changed somehow.

Maybe they’ve acquired a pathogen we don’t understand yet, and this infection is causing the allergy. Or perhaps, Commins says, changes to the insect’s microbiome, the collection of symbiotic microbes that it carries in its body, have somehow made its bites more allergenic.

The idea is plausible and could nicely explain how an arachnid that has been around for a long time could begin causing a new set of complications. Scientists have long debated where the alpha-gal in the tick originates: Does it come from the blood a tick sucks from other mammals and then regurgitates as it feeds on people, or does it come from the tick itself? Shahid Karim, a vector biologist at the University of Southern Mississippi, in Hattiesburg, told me that the answer might be neither; the sugar probably comes from the microbes that the tick carries within it. So it’s entirely possible, he said, that changes in its microbiome could, by increasing the amount of alpha-gal humans are exposed to in tick bites, make the lone-star tick more likely to induce meat allergy.

What such an account fails to address, however, is why the meat allergy has increased in other parts of the world, like Australia and Europe. (Van Nunen says that in the tick country around Sydney, people are now more likely to carry EpiPens, which contain a shot of adrenaline, for meat allergy than for better-known peanut allergies.) Other tick species are linked with meat allergy in those regions, not the lone-star tick. And it seems very unlikely that the microbiomes of all these ticks on different continents have changed in similar ways at the same time.

“I don’t for the life of me have a unifying hypothesis for why it’s happening everywhere,” Commins told me, although he added that pesticides could be one factor changing tick microbiomes globally.

It may simply be that an increase in the number of ticks has turned a problem once so rare that it went scientifically unnoticed into an observable epidemic.

“I think we’ve got far more tick bites today than people had as recently as 35 years ago,” Platts-Mills told me. He lays the blame for the growing spread of ticks on newly abundant deer.

In Virginia, he thinks new laws requiring dogs to remain on leashes have emboldened deer, which then bring ticks closer to people. People aren’t necessarily venturing deeper into the forests than in the past, he says. More than half the patients he sees with the allergy were bitten on their own lawns.

His leash theory is anecdotal, but it’s certainly true that the current ecological state of Eastern forests is probably encouraging ticks to multiply. After having been cleared in the Colonial era, the forests have partly grown back. Deer and turkey, which the lone-star tick likes to feed on, are abundant again. They thrive in the new-growth forests, now fragmented by roads and suburbs. Large predators are mostly absent. And the rise of tick-borne disease generally has been linked with the decline (or absence) of predators that eat the animals ticks feed on. In Australia, for example, van Nunen points to the eradication of foxes, an introduced species there, as one factor in the increase of ticks and the rise of meat allergy.

We might label this the disturbed ecosystem theory of meat allergy. Forests ecosystems have recovered partially — lots of animal hosts for ticks but not enough predators to keep those hosts in check — and this imbalance has fostered an exponential growth in the number of ticks. In some ways, this is the most probable explanation for the rise of meat allergy. Climate change may be aiding the lone-star tick’s move northward too, Rick Ostfeld, a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, told me. Hundreds of cases of meat allergy have been diagnosed on Long Island in recent years, which wasn’t part of the tick’s range in recent history. The tick has been spotted as far north as Maine.

But what’s happening in the American East can’t account for the full extent of the phenomenon elsewhere in the world. In Northern Europe, ticks are proliferating as forests recover and the climate becomes warmer. But in Spain and Southern Europe, the rising incidence of meat allergy has not been accompanied by an increase in tick numbers, according to José de la Fuente, a professor at the Institute of Game and Wildlife Research in Ciudad Real, Spain. For him, the mystery of meat allergy is captured in one question: If a tick bites two genetically similar people, why might only one develop the meat allergy?

Onyinye Iweala, an assistant professor who works with Scott Commins’s lab at the University of North Carolina, echoes this uncertainty. Why are some people sensitized to alpha-gal — meaning they have allergic antibodies directed at the sugar in their blood stream — but never have an allergic reaction to it? This can happen in all allergies. You can have antibodies to, say, cat dander, yet never wheeze or sneeze around cats. Iweala suspects that sensitization to alpha-gal isn’t new. What’s changing is the proportion of people who, after sensitization, proceed to overt allergy. Something else in the environment, she told me, is likely pushing people toward full-blown meat allergy. Perhaps shifts in the microbes that live within us have somehow made us more easily sensitized by tick bite. As a model of how this might work, Iweala points to intriguing research on the interaction between malaria and the human microbiome that centers on alpha-gal.

OUR DISTANT ANCESTORS once made alpha-gal. Understanding why humans don’t could shed light on the meat-allergy mystery. Like other mammals, South American monkeys produce alpha-gal. Only Old World monkeys and apes (and humans) have lost the ability to make the sugar. Hence scientists deduce that the change most likely happened after New and Old World primates diverged from each other around 40 million years ago. One explanation for the disappearance of alpha-gal is that it was driven by some catastrophe, a deadly infection that afflicted Old World primates, perhaps, and as a result maybe these distant relatives of ours stopped being able to produce the sugar because doing so conferred an evolutionary advantage. The mutation that eliminated alpha-gal could have improved a primate’s ability to fight off an infection by enabling its immune system to more easily distinguish between its own body and some pathogen with alpha-gal.

What could this pathogen have been? In the late 2000s, Miguel Soares, a scientist at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência in Oeiras, Portugal, began to suspect the plasmodium parasite that causes malaria. Because the protozoan is so deadly and has historically been so widespread in warmer climes, geneticists often say that malaria has been the single greatest force shaping the human genome in our recent evolutionary history. The parasite remains a leading cause of death in the developing world. And it’s coated in alpha-gal.

Soares and his colleagues investigated a rural Malian population that was naturally exposed to malaria. As it happens, humans produce some antibodies to alpha-gal all the time. They’re not allergic antibodies like those responsible for Lee Niegelsky’s anaphylactic experience, but antimicrobial ones that give rise to a different, less drastic immune response. Between 1 and 5 percent of all the antibodies circulating in any person, a remarkably large quantity, are directed at alpha-gal, Soares estimates. The target of these antibodies is not the alpha-gal in the steak you may have eaten for dinner but the alpha-gal that leaks into circulation from the microbes dwelling in your gut. There are natural variations in the amount of these antibodies any individual produces; some people make more, some less. Soares wanted to know if this variability influenced the villagers’ susceptibility to malaria.

What he discovered may yet change how malaria is combated. Villagers who produced the greatest quantity of alpha-gal antibodies, he found, weren’t immune to infection by the parasite, but they were less likely to be infected after exposure.

What was different about those with more alpha-gal antibodies? They had more gut microbes that produced the sugar, Soares speculated. By priming their immune response against alpha-gal, these individuals’ microbiomes probably helped shield them against malaria. Soares showed as much using mice. Rodents colonized by a strain of E. coli found in the human microbiome that contains alpha-gal produced antibodies to the sugar and were protected from malaria. Rodents that harbored an E. coli strain that didn’t produce the sugar, on the other hand, were not protected. (Other scientists later observed a connection between resistance to malaria and the composition of Malian villagers’ microbiomes.) This research highlights one reason we probably have a few pounds of microbes in us: Friendly microbes can help protect us against unfriendly ones.

Soares is currently working on a vaccine to spur the immune system to attack alpha-gal more actively, thereby conferring greater protection against malaria. His findings also raise the prospect, at least theoretically, of an antimalarial probiotic. In the context of meat allergy, his work underscores the fact that our microbes may affect how we respond to alpha-gal from other sources, including, perhaps, tick bites.

How might this work? You can envision antibodies as arrows that have Velcro on the front instead of arrowheads. Depending on their targets, that Velcro sticks only to a particular substance, like alpha-gal or peanut protein. The back end of the arrow displays a signal that tells the immune system what to do. Allergic antibodies, called immunoglobulin-E, or IgE for short, call for an allergic response. But the antibodies that humans typically have in circulation directed at alpha-gal are antimicrobial antibodies like IgM and IgG, not allergic ones.

A question central to the meat-allergy mystery is how, if we’re always exposed to alpha-gal from our gut microbes, and we’re constantly mounting a nonallergic response against it, the lone-star tick prompts what’s called “class switching,” spurring the immune system to pump out allergic antibodies instead of antimicrobial ones?

The microbes we host may, by stimulating the immune system and guiding its response to alpha-gal, make this class switching more or less likely, Onyinye Iweala told me. But scientists don’t yet know how the relationship works. Perhaps if your microbiota have more species that produce alpha-gal, these microbes stimulate your immune system in a way that protects you from allergic sensitization to the sugar when a tick bites. Or maybe the relationship works the other way around: If you host fewer alpha-gal-producing species and your immune system is less exposed to alpha-gal on a daily basis, that relative lack of stimulation might prevent alpha-gal allergy from developing when you’re bitten by a tick. These interactions can be tested — as Iweala is doing — with mice that, like humans, don’t produce alpha-gal.

What scientists do know is that if you treat a baboon with antibiotics, reducing the amount of alpha-gal-producing microbes in its gut, and thus lessening the stimulation they provide, the quantity of alpha-gal antibodies in its bloodstream also declines. This suggests that altering a primate’s gut microbes may change its immune response to alpha-gal. People living in developed countries, where most cases of meat allergy have been diagnosed, have been doing something very similar to themselves. “We keep changing the microbiome with antibiotics and what we eat,” Iweala says. By tweaking the microbes that live inside us, we may have inadvertently changed how our immune system responds to alpha-gal, making us more vulnerable to tick-induced meat allergy. It’s also possible, however, that the microbes that determine the general tone of our immune function have shifted, altering how we respond to all potential allergens, not just alpha-gal.

Since at least the late 20th century, and probably earlier, we’ve been living in the midst of what’s often called the allergy epidemic, an era that has seen an increase in the prevalence and severity of food allergies generally and, before that, a rise in the prevalence of respiratory allergies and asthma. The forces driving this trend may help account for meat allergy as well. A leading explanation holds that we develop more allergies now because our immune systems have become more sensitive to what they encounter, not because they are exposed to more pollens or allergenic foods than in the past. The reason the modern immune system errs this way, the thinking goes, is that it’s not receiving the right kind of education.

The news media have taken to calling this explanation the “hygiene hypothesis,” which is unfortunate and misleading; personal hygiene has little to do with what’s at issue. More accurate terms coined by researchers include the microbial-deprivation hypothesis, the disappearing-microbiota hypothesis and even the “old friends” hypothesis (the implication being that we’ve lost contact with once-ever-present friendly organisms).

Whatever you call it, the idea is that the rising tide of allergic diseases comes from changes to the type and quantity of microbes we encounter in our environment, particularly in our early life, as well as from changes to the microbes that live on and in us. Improved sanitation, antibiotics and the junk-food-ification of our diet, among other factors, may have shifted our microbial communities, giving us an immune system that’s overly jumpy, unable to reliably distinguish friend from foe and prone to diseases of overreaction, like allergies.

Studies on populations that have bucked the increase in allergies support the idea. Nearly 20 years of research on European children who grow up on farms with animals, for example, indicates that they are less likely to have respiratory allergies, asthma and eczema compared with other children in the same rural areas. The abundant microbial stimulation of the farm environment, scientists have proposed, tunes farming children’s immune system in a way that prevents allergic disease. The cowshed has thus become a stand-in for premodern conditions and the immune system that that environment produces — lightly stimulated but less likely to react to allergens — a model of how the human immune system might have worked in a more microbially enriched past.

So here is the question as it relates to meat allergy: If a lone-star tick bit a Bavarian farm-raised child, would she be less likely to develop an allergy to alpha-gal compared with her nonfarming counterparts? Put another way, if the tick bit someone 150 years ago when the whole world was more like a cowshed, would that person be less or more likely to develop a food allergy than someone from modern-day Chapel Hill?

It’s pure speculation at this point, but gradual, intergenerational changes to our microbes may have altered our immunological tenor, shifting it from cool, calm and collected toward restless and irritable and increasing the odds of developing allergy from a tick bite. Today we may encounter more ticks than in times past, but they may also be interacting with an immune system that’s more sensitive to their bites than ever before. “It’s the ‘perfect storm,’ as you would say in America,” Sheryl van Nunen told me.

For Lee Niegelsky, who had eaten hamburgers his entire life, the allergy forced him to constantly scrutinize his diet. You don’t realize how many foods have meat-derived products in them, he told me — especially in the South, where pork fat and bacon are widely used as flavoring — until you have to avoid meat for fear of passing out. Not long ago, for example, he fell ill after eating clam chowder, which he attributes to meat broth that he suspects was in the soup.

The good news is that, provided you’re not bitten by a tick again, sometimes the meat allergy fades on its own. A year after his visit to the emergency room, under Scott Commin’s supervision, Niegelsky began introducing small amounts of lean meat into his diet. The idea is to test the possibility that his allergic alpha-gal antibodies have subsided to the point that his immune system no longer attacks the sugar. It took Niegelsky about a week to muster the courage to take his first bite of pork tenderloin. He waited anxiously for six hours. When nothing happened, he moved on to steak.

Moises Velasquez-Manoff is a contributing Op-Ed writer for The Times and the author of ‘‘An Epidemic of Absence: A New Way of Understanding Allergies and Autoimmune Diseases.’’ He last wrote for the magazine about carbon farming.

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**Comment**

I find it interesting that no one is mentioning the fact ticks have been tweaked in a lab for biowarfare purposes.  

https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2018/03/07/hantavirus-tularemia-warnings-issued-in-san-diego-county/  Tularemia, brucella, certain Rickettsia’s, numerous viruses, some chlamydia’s, and of course mycoplasma have all been weaponized.  https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2015/08/12/connecting-dots-mycoplasma/

http://www.immed.org/infectious%20disease%20reports/InfectDiseaseReport06.11.09update/PHA_Nicolson_0709_v4.07.pdf

“According to Dr. Nicolson, some of the experiments used Mycoplasma while others utilized various “cocktails of microbial agents” such as Mycoplasma, Brucella, and DNA viruses such as Parvovirus B19. This project later become the topic of a book by Dr. Nicolson entitled Project Day Lily.

Dr. Nicolson believes that Mycoplasma fermentans is a naturally occurring microbe. However, some of the strains that exist today have been weaponized. Dr. Nicolson’s research found unusual genes in M. fermentans incognitus that were consistent with a weaponized form of the organism. Weaponzing of an organism is done in an attempt to make a germ more pathogenic, immunosuppressive, resistant to heat and dryness, and to increase its survival rate such that the germ could be used in various types of weapons. Genes which were part of the HIV‐1 envelope gene were found in these Mycoplasma. This means that the infection may not give someone HIV, but that it may result in some of the debilitating symptoms of the HIV disease.”

Regarding the weaponization of tick pathogens:  https://www.lymedisease.org/lymepolicywonk-questioning-governments-role-lyme-disease-make-conspiracy-theorist/  (Go here to read excerpts of an interview with a biologist who acknowledged doing biowarfare work on ticks and mosquitoes.  He admits every time he has a strange illness his physician says it’s probably a rickettsia – an idiopathic condition that never tests positive but symptoms indicate it.)

‘The interview suggests to me that the reason we have such a large problem with our tick population today may be related to military experiments in the 50s. They were part of a biological warfare effort against the Russians. One goal was to figure out how to get ticks to reproduce quickly and abundantly, as well as how to distribute ticks to targeted areas.”

For a lengthy but informative read on the Lyme-Biowarfare connections:  CitizensAlert_Bob13  (Scroll to page 44 to see an executive summary.  Please notice the names of Steere, Barbour, Shapiro, Klempner, and Wormser, the first four are affiliated with the CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS).  Wormser, lead author of the fraudulent Lyme treatment guidelines, lectures as an expert on biowarefare agents and treatments).  The author of the pdf believes borrelia (Lyme) has been bioweaponized due to (excerpt from pdf footnote):

226 An article was put out by the Associated Press mentioning the study of Lyme disease at a new biowarfare lab at the University of Texas, San Antonio. The article was quickly retracted and mention of Lyme disease was scrubbed from the article. Here is the text of the original article: “A new research lab for bioterrorism opened Monday at the University of Texas at San Antonio. The $10.6 million Margaret Batts Tobin Laboratory Building will provide a 22,000-square-foot facility to study such diseases as anthrax, tularemia, cholera, lyme disease, desert valley fever and other parasitic and fungal diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified these diseases as potential bioterrorism agents.” MSNBC, 11/21/2005. For a comparison of the censored and uncensored articles, see: http://members.iconn.net/~marlae/lyme/featurearticle02.htm

So you tell me.  Could all this lab tweaking have something to do with tick borne illness and allergies?