When people hear the word “tick” they often think of deer ticks and the most common health risk they transmit – Lyme disease. However, Lone Star ticks (which originally were predominantly in the southeast) have been migrating north, ranging from Maine to Oklahoma due to climate change over the last several years… including Long Island. A bite from this kind of tick could make it impossible for you to eat red meat.
When Should I Worry About A Tick Bite?
As with bites from other species of ticks, you probably will not notice the actual bite. Ticks of all types are miniscule. The Lone Star tick is about the size of a poppy seed – so it is very unlikely that you will feel the bite when it happens.
Afterward, you might get a circular rash that looks like a symptom of Lyme disease. However, if you get this rash after a Lone Star tick bite, it is not actually from Borrelia burgdorferi, which is the Lyme disease-causing bacterium. Instead this rash has been dubbed the “southern tick-associated rash illness” (STARI). Fatigue, fever, headaches, and muscle pains may also occur. This rash is often treated with a course of oral antibiotics.
If you think you have been bit by a tick, it is important to do a full body inspection to find and remove any additional ticks. Besides minimizing the number of bites you could receive, having the tick can help you identify the type and, therefore, the specific health risks associated with it.
After finding anything that might be a tick bite, you should monitor your health closely and consult your physician. If you develop a fever, headache, rash, pain in your muscles/joints, or swollen lymph nodes within 30 days of the tick bite, seeing a doctor is very important as those symptoms are associated with a variety of diseases transmitted by ticks.
Do Lone Star Ticks Carry Lyme Disease?
No, they do not. Unlike deer ticks, the Lone Star tick does not carry or transmit Lyme disease. In fact, Lone Star tick saliva can kill the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium that causes Lyme disease.
What Is Alpha-Gal Syndrome?
Alpha-gal syndrome, also known as AGS, is an allergy to red meat (also referred to as ‘mammalian meat’), which is frequently triggered after the bite of the Lone Star tick. The allergy is serious once it forms and can be potentially life threatening.
An alpha-gal reaction usually appears 3-6 hours after exposure to red meat or products derived from red meat – like gelatin – which can even coat medications. While some people may only have a mild case, those who have a serious case are often advised to carry an EpiPen in case they are accidentally triggered.
Symptoms of an AGS reaction include:
- Blood pressure drop
- Breathing problems
- Stomach pain (usually severe)
Do All Lone Star Ticks Cause Meat Allergy?
All Lone Star ticks have the potential to trigger a red meat allergy after a bite, but not all do. It depends upon timing in relation to the Lone Star ticks’ recent actions.
Alpha-gal is a sugar that exists within the flesh of “red meat” or “mammalian meat” animals – meaning cows, pigs, lamb/sheep, deer, and more. Lone Star ticks like to bite all of these creatures… as well as humans.
According to Cosby Stone, M.D., MPH (an allergy and immunology clinical research fellow at Vanderbilt University Medical Center), what can happen is that the Lone Star tick would bite one of these animals and pick up the alpha-gal sugar in the process. If the tick then bites a person, it can transmit the alpha-gal at the same time.
The tick bite triggers the person’s immune system, and because alpha-gal is transmitted along with the tick saliva from the bite, the immune system will target alpha-gal as well. Now trained to believe that alpha-gal is dangerous, a person’s immune system will react to the chemical in the future when they eat red meat – causing the allergic reaction.
Arrow Can Help Prevent Ticks
Protect your family from ticks and Lyme disease by calling Arrow Exterminating to discuss tick control prevention and treatments. Call or contact us today and let the professionals at Arrow Exterminating handle it.