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Up to 450,000 Americans may have been affected by tick-bite meat allergy: CDC

Approximately 500,000 Americans possibly affected by meat allergy associated with ticks, according to US CDC.
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New data released by CDC indicate that around 450,000 individuals living in the United States might be affected by a potentially life-threatening meat allergy connected to tick bites.

Referred to as Alpha-gal syndrome (AGS), this serious allergic condition arises in certain individuals after consuming food or products containing alpha-gal, a sugar found in meat from mammals like pork, beef, rabbit, lamb, and venison, as well as in products made from mammals, such as gelatin and cow’s milk.

Symptoms of AGS can vary widely and may include hives, itchiness, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, indigestion, diarrhea, cough, shortness of breath, drop in blood pressure, swelling of lips, throat, tongue, or eyelids, dizziness, faintness, or severe stomach pain.

According to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, numerous cases of AGS may go undiagnosed due to the vague and inconsistent symptoms, and a lack of awareness among healthcare professionals. Higher numbers of positive cases were identified in regions across the southern, midwestern, and mid-Atlantic parts of the country.

The lone star tick is believed to be primarily associated with AGS, although other tick species have not been completely ruled out.

Dr. Ann Carpenter, an epidemiologist and lead author of one of the papers, highlights the importance of recognizing AGS as a significant emerging public health issue with potentially long-term health consequences for some patients. Clinicians need to be aware of AGS to effectively evaluate, diagnose, and manage patients, and also educate them about tick-bite prevention to safeguard against developing this allergic condition.

In one of the studies, a survey involving 1,500 healthcare professionals, including family/general practitioners, internists, pediatricians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants, revealed that nearly half of the respondents were not familiar with AGS. Additionally, around one-third expressed limited confidence in their ability to diagnose or manage patients with AGS, while only five percent felt very confident.

Another study conducted by CDC researchers analyzed laboratory test results from 2017 to 2022, involving over 300,000 specimens submitted by healthcare providers for patients suspected of having AGS. More than 30 percent of these tests returned positive results for AGS.


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Brendan Taylor

Brendan Taylor was a TV news producer for 5 and a half years. He is an experienced writer. Brendan covers Breaking News at Insider Paper.

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