Anaphylaxis is the most serious form of allergic reaction a person can get, and it can be fatal. Typical symptoms include swelling of the tongue and throat, itching, hives, trouble breathing, low blood pressure, and shortly thereafter - an inability to breathe at all.
People with severe allergic reactions to food - such as peanuts - are advised to carry a medical device called an epinephrine pen (commercial name, Epipen). The "pen" is a portable injection device with a small cartridge of epinephrine and a preservative in it which is injected into the side of a person's leg at a 90 degree angle and held there for 10 seconds before removal. This injection is not the end of treatment - it is only meant to help until EMTs or paramedics arrive; an ambulance must be called if someone has an anaphylactic reaction.
So, when I say this is serious - it is. People have died from anaphylactic reactions. Having Epipens on hand is critical if you know you have this condition. Your odds of survival are greatly improved if you have them and use them early in the onset of serious symptoms.
If I seem to be pretty concerned about this issue, I am - I know a number of people with serious allergies, including one with a peanut allergy - and they have to carry these pens and avoid certain restaurants all the time.
Weird thing about this anaphylactic response in people who have had tick bites is that everyone who had the reaction used to have no problem eating red meat prior to the bites - and also, the anaphylactic response doesn't turn up until 3 to 6 hours after consuming the red meat. Usually an anaphylactic response shows up 5 to 30 minutes after consuming the wrong food - and is a reaction to protein in the food. In this case - even though it's meat that is the trigger - a carbohydrate is the source of the reaction.
The research states it is mostly people who have been bitten by the Lone Star tick who develop this allergic reaction. But since you might not know which kind of tick bit you, you might want to avoid beef, lamb, and pork in your diet - and maybe even cow's milk - just to be on the safe side. Besides... Fish, turkey, and chicken are usually leaner sources of protein and have less saturated fat anyway - it's good for you.
The relevance of tick bites to the production of IgE antibodies to the mammalian oligosaccharide galactose-α-1,3-galactose. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. (In Press) Scott P. Commins, MD, PhD, Hayley R. James, BS, Libby A. Kelly, MD, Shawna L. Pochan, CNM, MPH, Lisa J. Workman, BA, Matthew S. Perzanowski, PhD, MPH, Katherine M. Kocan, PhD, John V. Fahy, MD, Lucy W. Nganga, MD, Eva Ronmark, PhD, Philip J. Cooper, MB BS, PhD, Thomas A.E. Platts-Mills, FRS.
Abstract source: http://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(11)00344-7/abstract
Newspaper article from 2010 on patients in southeast US: http://www.roanoke.com/news/roanoke/wb/253939
What's interesting is that Dr. Commins did research on IgE antibodies and anaphylaxis caused by carbohydrates present in red meat and thought there might be a relationship to tick bites when he did this earlier research.
To quote from this previous publication,
"Initial attempts to clarify the possible causes of development of IgE antibodies to α-gal included investigation of parasitic infections as an inciting event. Sera from patients with documented helminth infections, however, do not consistently contain IgE antibodies to α-gal (data not shown). Interestingly, more than 80% of the patients in the present cohort report being bitten by ticks before having symptoms; a similar scenario has been recently described in a group of Australian patients.31Therefore the implications of IgE antibodies to α-gal might extend well beyond the southeastern United States, and we are pursuing the possibility that bites from ticks or tick larvae of the genus Amblyomma are responsible for triggering the production of IgE antibodies to α-gal."
There has been a lot of controversy downunder as to whether or not one can get any sort of tickborne infection from ticks in Australia. The common belief held by many for a long time was that outside of tick paralysis, ticks in Australia don't carry diseases like ticks do in the northern hemisphere.
A lot of discussion about Lyme disease in Australia was spurred by the July 2010 death of Karl McManus, an actor on the set of the TV show, Home and Away. Karl was bitten by a tick in Australia in 2007 while filming outdoors on the set and went on to develop a flu-like illness followed by many symptoms of neuroborreliosis. More information on Lyme disease and other tickborne infections in Australia can be found at the Karl McManus Foundation web site.
Due to stories such as Karl's and of a number of Australians who state they have had symptoms of tickborne infections - even though they have not traveled outside Australia - it is clear more needs to be done to investigate the situation. More research is needed there to show how extensive tickborne infection is in Australia, and a greater awareness about the symptoms of tickborne infections outside of tick paralysis (fairly well known by Australians and supposedly completely reversible if the tick is removed right away) is needed by the Australian public and doctors.
There are five kinds of hard-bodied Ixodes ticks - as well as other ticks - that could spread infection in the country. Note that there are no Lone Star ticks in Australia - so what is causing the serious allergic reaction mentioned above? So far, I only found limited research available and accessible online referring to the citation source below  which is The Association between Ixodes Holocyclus Tick Bite Reactions and Red Meat Allergy by Sheryl van Nunen, Kate O’Connor, Suran Fernando, Lesley Clarke, and Richard X Boyle, which was published as part of a poster session at the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology & Allergy's 18th Annual Scientific Meeting in 2007 in Western Australia.
If any of my readers from Australia know more about this session or anyone has more information about this, please let me know in comments.
Earlier research, in full text:
Delayed anaphylaxis, angioedema, or urticaria after consumption of red meat in patients with IgE antibodies specific for galactose-α-1,3-galactose. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Volume 123, Issue 2 , Pages 426-433.e2, February 2009. Scott P. Commins, MD, PhD, Shama M. Satinover, MS, Jacob Hosen, BS, Jonathan Mozena, MD, Larry Borish, MD, Barrett D. Lewis, MD, Judith A. Woodfolk, MBChB, PhD, Thomas A.E. Platts-Mills, MD, PhD
Read entire publication for free: http://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(08)01931-3/fulltext
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