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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

This tick will make you a vegetarian against your will

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Giving up meat can be quite difficult for some. If you want to be a vegetarian but don’t know where to start, this little tick can become your personal nutritionist!

Amblyomma americanum tick, known as the lone star tick, inhabits some states in the US and Mexico and is more common in wooded areas and large trees. 

But there is a very curious detail: a single bite of this tiny but aggressive arachnid is capable of unleashing a strong allergic reaction to red meat, and this is what Amblyomma inoculates by chopping a carbohydrate called alpha-gal.

This substance is present in the cell membranes of all animals except humans and some primates. As a result, our body begins to produce immunoglobulin E antibodies to neutralize it.

Pork, beef, and lamb also contain small amounts of alpha-gal. And if your body already has these antibodies after the bite, it is very likely that your immune system begins to reject red meat

For this reason, we do not recommend consuming it after being bitten by this lone star.

It should be noted that chicken and fish do not contain alpha-gal and that this is not a lifelong allergy either – most people can go back to eating red meat in a couple of years.

The symptoms of allergy to alpha-gal appear several hours after consuming the meat and include:

  • vomiting and nausea
  • swelling
  • diarrhea
  • fainting
  • respiratory distress
  • rashes

In the most severe cases, some patients end up in intensive care. To date, there is no treatment for this allergy, but you can prevent it. 

Just watch out for Amblyomma americanum ticks, and if you couldn’t avoid the bite, we recommend getting an IgE antibody test before eating a hamburger.

Image Credit: Getty

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