Summer is here, which means more people are outside trying to enjoy nature, albeit nature that’s filled with bugs. They’re a part of the deal, and most of the time they’re simply annoying. But other times they can pose serious threats that could impact your life forever.
According to the Center for Disease Control, Lone Star ticks at all stages of life bite humans even the tick’s larvae, unlike those of all other American ticks and can be “quite aggressive.”
But what makes them so dangerous is that they carry a special kind of sugar in theirbodies called alpha-gal.Thanks to evolution, humans no longer produce this sugar, but its found in all red meat, pork, and some dairy products.
When a Lone Star tick bites a human, it injects this special alpha-gal sugar into the victims body. The human immune system naturally responds to the bite by creating antibodies to fight the foreign substance.
From that moment on, whenever that person eats any meat that contains the alpha-gal sugar, a severe allergic reaction occurs.
“The weird thing about [this reaction] is it can occur within three to 10 or 12 hours, so patients have no idea what prompted their allergic reactions,” said Dr. Ronald Saff, an allergist in Tallahassee, Florida, and an assistant clinical professor at the Florida State University College of Medicine.
The symptoms are often severe hives and shortness of breath are common, and a dangerous anaphylactic reaction is possible. But they seem to appear out of the blue, often the night after eating a burger or steak.
As a result, the Lone Star ticks victims are essentially forced into a life of semi-vegetarianism, although most can still safely eat fish and poultry.
Some people develop more sensitivity than others, and a few can tolerate small amounts of meat, but some become so allergic that they can’t even consume animal products like dairy milk.