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CDC Warns Of ‘Emerging’ Illness Caused By Tick Bite That Causes ‘Potentially Life-Threatening’ Allergy To Red Meat

  A little-known illness caused by a tick bite gives victims a serious allergy to red meat and affected an estimated 110,000 people between ...

 A little-known illness caused by a tick bite gives victims a serious allergy to red meat and affected an estimated 110,000 people between 2010 and 2022, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released Thursday. 

The illness, called alpha-gal syndrome (AGS), comes from the bite of a Lone Star tick, which can be found mostly in the South as well as many Eastern and Midwest states. AGS causes serious allergic reactions to red meat such as pork, beef, rabbit, lamb, venison, and even mammal products like milk. 

“Alpha-gal syndrome is an important emerging public health problem, with potentially severe health impacts that can last a lifetime for some patients,” said Dr. Ann Carpenter, an epidemiologist and lead author of one of the papers released Thursday on AGS. “It’s critical for clinicians to be aware of AGS so they can properly evaluate, diagnose, and manage their patients and also educate them on tick-bite prevention to protect patients from developing this allergic condition.”

Many doctors and health care providers are still unfamiliar with AGS, according to the CDC, which added that the allergic reactions caused by the tick bite can be “potentially life-threatening.” 

One study asked 1,500 family/general practitioners, internists, pediatricians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants across the U.S. about AGS and found that nearly half of them had never heard of it and around one-third of respondents said they were “‘not too confident’ in their ability to diagnose or manage patients with AGS,” the CDC said. The CDC estimated that the number of people who might be affected by AGS could be as high as 450,000. 

“The burden of alpha-gal syndrome in the United States could be substantial given the large percentage of cases suspected to be going undiagnosed due to non-specific and inconsistent symptoms, challenges seeking healthcare, and lack of clinician awareness,” said Dr. Johanna Salzer, who authored both papers on AGS released by the CDC.


The Daily Wire reported last year on how people with AGS deal with the symptoms. One woman described the struggles of eating out at a restaurant, noting that even a veggie burger prepared on the same grill with meat patties is problematic. Another person said that even breathing in fumes from red meat causes a reaction.

Symptoms of AGS include “hives or itchy rash; nausea or vomiting; heartburn or indigestion; diarrhea; cough; shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; drop in blood pressure; swelling of the lips, throat, tongue, or eye lids; dizziness or faintness; or severe stomach pain,” according to the CDC. There is currently no known cure for the illness, and the CDC says that “preventing tick bites” is the most important action one can take to “reduce your chances of developing AGS.” 

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