Tick Diseases - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 2021472

Tick Diseases

Regarding last week’s front-page story about the lone star tick vs. the blacklegged tick and Lyme disease [“STARI Vs. Lyme: Understanding The Diseases In Tick Territory,” 27east.com, September 6]: While STARI is one condition that might occur with a lone star tick bite, alpha-gal syndrome needs to be discussed. I got it in 1968 while at Army flight school in Texas.

According to the Mayo Clinic: “Alpha-gal syndrome is a recently identified type of food allergy to red meat and other products made from mammals. In the United States, the condition is most often caused by a lone star tick bite. The bite transmits a sugar molecule called alpha-gal into the person’s body. In some people, this triggers an immune system reaction that later produces mild to severe allergic reactions to red meat, such as beef, pork or lamb, or other mammal products.”

The Lone Star tick is found predominantly in the southeastern United States, and most cases of alpha-gal syndrome occur in this region. The tick can also be found in the eastern and south central United States. The condition appears to be spreading farther north and west, however, as deer carry the lone star tick to new parts of the United States.

Alpha-gal syndrome also has been diagnosed in Europe, Australia and Asia, where other types of ticks carry alpha-gal molecules.

Researchers now believe that some people who have frequent, unexplained anaphylactic reactions — and who test negative for other food allergies — may be affected by alpha-gal syndrome.

There’s no treatment other than avoiding red meat and other products made from mammals.

Clayton Munsey