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Mon Aug 20, 2018, 10:57 PM

What the Mystery of the Tick-Borne Meat Allergy Could Reveal


What the Mystery of the Tick-Borne Meat Allergy Could Reveal
Unraveling why tick bites are suddenly causing a strange reaction in some people who eat meat could help scientists better understand how all allergies work.
By Moises Velasquez-Manoff
July 24, 2018

One spring evening in 2016, Lee Niegelsky’s underarm began to itch. An investment manager, he was doing housework around his condo, and he thought he’d been bitten by a chigger. But within 15 minutes, hives had erupted all over his body. He responded with what he calls a “typical man reaction” — if the hives didn’t clear up by the next day, he would have them checked. Fifteen minutes later, the itch had become unbearable. He needed help right away.

His wife wasn’t home, so he drove himself to the university hospital emergency room near where he lived in Chapel Hill, N.C. As he explained his symptoms at the check-in counter, he began to feel faint, then fell to one knee. An orderly offered a wheelchair. He sat down — and promptly lost consciousness.

When he came to, he was on the floor. He had rolled out of the wheelchair and hit his head. A gaggle of worried-looking medical staff stood over him. They asked if he was on drugs. Did he have heart problems? His blood pressure was extremely low, probably the reason he had passed out. Niegelsky, who was 58, told them that he was healthy and drug-free and had no heart condition. “I could see the concern on their faces in a way that did not help my confidence level at all,” Niegelsky says.

He felt as if insects were biting every inch of his hands, armpits and groin. A doctor asked if he had any food allergies. The hives and the low blood pressure suggested anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction. Again the answer was no, but Niegelsky did recall that he had a very bad allergic reaction a month earlier to a tick bite he got at a concert.

The E.R. doctor ordered two shots of epinephrine, also known as adrenaline, to dampen the allergic reaction; the hives and itching began to subside about 25 minutes later. Now the doctor asked Niegelsky what he’d eaten that day. A hamburger for lunch, Niegelsky told him. In his recollection, the doctor’s eyes widened, and he said, “I think we know what you have” — a condition called mammalian-meat allergy.

Meat allergy was first observed in the 1990s and formally described in 2009, which makes it a relatively recent arrival to the compendium of allergic conditions. Its most curious quality may be that it is seemingly triggered by a tick bite. In America, the culprit, called the lone-star tick — females have a distinctive white splotch on their backs — is common in the warm and humid Southeast, where most cases of meat allergy have been diagnosed. Niegelsky had in fact heard about the allergy from friends. He remembers shaking his head and thinking that it sounded “made up.” He understood now, in a visceral way, how real it was. That bite from a month ago had primed his body for today’s hives and plummeting blood pressure.


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Reply What the Mystery of the Tick-Borne Meat Allergy Could Reveal (Original post)
dalton99a Aug 2018 OP
redstateblues Aug 2018 #1
Judi Lynn Aug 2018 #3
underpants Aug 2018 #2
Duppers Aug 2018 #4

Response to dalton99a (Original post)

Mon Aug 20, 2018, 11:03 PM

1. I've got it.Its fins and feathers for me for the foreseeable future

I had a high rating on the Alfa gal blood test. It explained the hives I’ve been battling for several years. I’ve been gradually reintroducing dairy back int to my diet with some success.

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Response to redstateblues (Reply #1)

Tue Aug 21, 2018, 01:24 AM

3. Just heard about it tonight on local news for the first time. It sound truly horrendous.

What you have sounds exactly like the article, and what I heard on our local tv news.

What a horrible experience!

Very best wishes for your complete recovery.

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Response to dalton99a (Original post)

Mon Aug 20, 2018, 11:07 PM

2. Marking to read later


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Response to dalton99a (Original post)

Tue Aug 21, 2018, 02:16 AM

4. Mammalian-meat allergy

More people should be bitten by lone star ticks so we'd stop eating mammals.

Only half-way kidding here, since I object to killing mammals and eating red meat. Sorry, folks, I love some critters more than others. Ideally and seriously we all should be vegetarians.
I grew up in a family of carnivores and ate red meat most of my life, unfortunately. I've now successfully given it up for almost a dozen yrs.

Btw, I well know anaphylactic shock is nothing to laugh at; it put me in the ER not just once but twice. The last time they had to keep me for hours and IV me to get my reaction to stop. I was swollen like a blimp and was difficult for me to breathe.

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