Uh-Oh: A Tick Bite Can Make You Allergic To Red Meat

August 11, 2014


In what's sure to become the latest dieting craze, scientists have discovered that the bite from a Lone Star tick can actually make a person allergic to red meat. Dammit, why can't it make me allergic to salad? Then I could eat everything else on my plate and my mom would still let me have dessert.

Here's how it happens: The bugs harbor a sugar that humans don't have, called alpha-gal. The sugar is also is found in red meat - beef, pork, venison, rabbit - and even some dairy products. It's usually fine when people encounter it through food that gets digested.

But a tick bite triggers an immune system response, and in that high-alert state, the body perceives the sugar the tick transmitted to the victim's bloodstream and skin as a foreign substance, and makes antibodies to it. That sets the stage for an allergic reaction the next time the person eats red meat and encounters the sugar.

Pretty crazy. Is there a such thing as tick repellant? Because I don't want to take any chances getting bitten then not being able to eat McDonald's cheeseburgers. I'm kidding, there's not actually any meat in McDonald's cheeseburgers. I heard they're all clay. "Pfft, who told you that?" The Burger King king.

Thanks to SC, who once got bit by a mosquito and couldn't drink fruit punch for a month.

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