How a Tick Bite Can Give You a Red Meat Allergy

In a matter of weeks, a second rare tick known to cause continuous human allergy to meat was found in Canada.

After coming home from the Canada Day walk through Willow Lake Park in Winnipeg, Jason Miller noticed a unique tick on him.

“I just felt something crawling across my hand, I could say it was like no tick I’ve ever seen in my life when I looked at it closely. In the center of her back, she had a white dot.”

It turns out that the arachnid was a Lone Star tick on Miller’s side – so called on his back for his unique white place. This species is discovered mainly in the southeastern United States and Mexico, but in latest years they have been seen more frequently in southern states and in Canada.

The Lone Star tick has received attention because of its capacity to cause individuals to develop an allergy to red meat, or more specifically alpha-gal, which is a red meat carbohydrate. Carbohydrate allergic reactions may include hives, rash of the skin, vomiting, and diarrhea.

There is no recognized allergy cure, and red meat is recommended to prevent those who develop the allergy.

Miller said he was worried about his Lone Star tick, a female he found racking through his hand, although he wasn’t bitten by it.

“I know that these kinds of ticks carry the disease, horrible diseases,” he said.

Kateryn Rochon, a University of Manitoba assistant Professor of Entomology, says not all Lone Star ticks are infected with monocytic ehrlichiotic bacteria, the meat allergy triggering infection.

To properly remove a tick embedded in the skin, the Public Health Agency of Canada advises using tweezers to carefully grasp it as close to the skin as possible and pull slowly upward while avoiding crushing or twisting the tick.