The Lone Star tick bite has a strange side effect. (Source: KLTV News staff)
LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) -
One bite from an insect called the Lone Star tick can cause extreme allergies to red meat.
"It's a frightening experience, something no one wants to go through," says Longview allergy specialist Dr. Todd Holman.
That frightening experience is brought on by the Lone Star tick which ranges across the southwest, and whose bite passes on an allergic reaction in humans...to red meat.
"Around 2007-2008 there were some case reports of individuals who appeared to be having more delayed type reactions to red meat the vast majority of these cases had an associated tick bite," Holman says.
The Longview doctor says this has even showed up at his office.
"I personally had at least 2 or 3 cases. The main emphasis for research on this in the Virginia area. There were increasing numbers of reports of people having delayed anaphylaxis to red meat or meat products. The Lone Star tick appears to be the vector of carrier," the doctor says.
The tick passes on an antibody that causes the allergic reaction.
"The physicians there were able to isolate a particular antibody. The tick induces an immune reaction," Holman says.
You can pick one of these ticks up just about anywhere mostly though it's in wooded areas. The down side is, there is no treatment for it.
"There is no treatment, there is no allergy shot," says Holman.
As a result, the next time that person eats red meat, their immune system responds with an allergic reaction that can be very scary.
"They may react very violently. It usually begins with itching, then intestinal issues, diarrhea, blood pressure. It appears to be related to the frequency that you've been bitten," Holman says.
There have been no reported fatal cases involving the Lone Star tick, and not all victims of the bite consistently have a bad reaction.
The allergic reaction, oddly enough, does not happen with ingestion of fish or poultry.