Tick Season in Washington can Lead to Alpha Gal
...and no, it's not a super hero.
Conditions have been just right, not only in Washington, but across sections of America, to make for elevated numbers of ticks this summer.
Tick bites can be the source of several debilitating conditions, including Lyme Disease, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, anaplasmosis, Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness, Tick-Borne Relapsing Fever, and several more.
One of the more interesting conditions which can be brought on by a tick bite is Alpha-Gal. According to the CDC, "Alpha-gal syndrome (AGS) is a serious, potentially life-threatening allergic condition. AGS is also called alpha-gal allergy, red meat allergy, or tick bite meat allergy. AGS is not caused by an infection. AGS symptoms occur after people eat red meat or are exposed to other products containing alpha-gal." The CDC also says that more than 450,000 people have contracted the disease since just 2010.
Most reactions to common food allergens like peanuts or shellfish typically happen within minutes after an individual is exposed to them. In alpha-gal syndrome, however, reactions usually appear about 3 to 6 hours after you are exposed. Foods that can cause a reaction include red meat, pork, lamb, organ meats, and products made from mammals, such as gelatins or dairy products.
Unfortunately, most folks don't realize they are experiencing symptoms of Alpha-Gal after infection. Those symptoms include, but are not limited to hives, itching, or itchy, scaly skin, swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat, or other body parts,wheezing or shortness of breath, stomach pain, diarrhea, upset stomach and vomiting.
That being said, there are several symptoms to look out for in case of a severe reaction. These include trouble breathing, rapid, weak pulse, dizzy or lightheaded feeling, drooling and not being able to swallow.
At this time there is no cure for Alpha-Gal, and few treatments. For those suffering from this condition, their best bet is to avoid consuming red meat, or products made from mammalian flesh.