Experts warn lone star tick could cause allergic reactions to meat

Lone Star tick is most commonly found in the southern areas of the U.S.
This tick is commonly found in Texas but gets its name from its appearance.
Published: Jun. 21, 2023 at 12:24 PM CDT
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EAST TEXAS (KLTV/KTRE) - Wednesday is the first day of Summer and you need to be aware of the risk of bites from the Lone Star tick.

While the tick is commonly found in Texas, it actually gets its name from its appearance.

The “lone star” part of its name refers to the white dot on its back found on the female ticks.

One thing about this tick, it is not shy towards humans, since it’s known to bite people.

According to the CDC, growing evidence shows that their bites can cause alpha-gal syndrome (AGS), which is also known as red meat allergy.

“While they’re feeding on us, they’re giving us a protein, therefore causing an allergic reaction in the future,” said Sonja Swiger an Agrilife Extension entomologist at Texas A&M. “When you try to eat meat and now your body reacts to it.”

The Alpha-gal is actually a sugar molecule found in most mammals, some meat, and milk.

However, it is not found in birds, fish, reptiles, or people.

The tick won’t always transmit a disease or trigger this allergy but experts recommend removing it immediately.

“When ticks, when they stay on us longer that increases that chance of them passing pathogens to us,” said Swiger. “So it is recommended to remove ticks as soon as possible.”

Once removed, if the bite did give you a red meat allergy how you react to it varies from person to person.

According to the CDC, some of the symptoms people see are the following:

  • Severe stomach pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling of lips, throat, tongue, or eyelids

Experts say reactions vary from person to person, it can range from mild to severe and even life-threatening to some.

If you think you may have AGS, it is recommended to talk to your health provider.

Experts recommend avoiding wooded areas, where ticks could be found. If you do go, wearing jeans, socks or boots could help avoid getting bit.