Q. My 16-year-old daughter was diagnosed with alpha-gal allergy several months ago after numerous trips to the ER. She’s had tick bites that itched, swelled and remained a large hard knot for weeks. She’s also had horrifying late-night reactions in which she was covered in hives.

We live on a farm and raise our own beef and lamb. My daughter handles the sheep and cows daily. She has plans to become a large animal vet and has worked with the university vet in various procedures without any problems.

Avoiding mammal meat is just a way of life for her now. When she is out with groups (4-H, etc.), she often has to skip what they eat (at hamburger cook outs, for example). Her friends understand, as they have seen her with a horrible reaction and don’t want to see that again.

A. Alpha-gal allergy is initially triggered by a tick bite. It leads to a delayed but serious allergic reaction to eating meat. Symptoms may include hives, difficulty breathing or anaphylactic shock.

There is a blood test to confirm the allergy. The only solution is to avoid eating meat. Anyone who would like more details about alpha-gal allergy may wish to listen to our one-hour interview with the researcher who discovered it. Search for radio show # 830 at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com

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  1. Cory

    June 2013 – I live in Virginia and had a surgery and 2 hours from it I broke out in hives. The Dr. reassured it was normal. 2 weeks later I still had the hives only it had gotten worse. Wasted my time at the Dermatologist whom diagnosed me incorrectly. I Ended up at physician treatment center and received a shot to get some relief.
    Of course after some time the hives return. Always at its worst 2:30 AM. I thought it was mishap from the surgery. Finally went to my allergy Dr. and he ran blood work for everything hive related which showed Alpha Gal. More blood work also showed my J01 Antibodies high which led me to a Rheumotologist. The Dr.s think the rise of J01 may be related to the Alpha Gal.
    Just be sure to research because it’s not just Hoof meat that you can’t eat. My hives were triggered more from gelatine which comes from animals. Poptarts was my worst enemy it contains gelatine. Also starburst candy, gummies, medicine with gel caps, and the list goes on.
    RESEARCH….one of my friends wife had a serious attack from a mint which put her in the hospital. This Alpha Gal can kill you. I’m Hoof meat free and hive free at this time now trying to correct the JO1 before it destroys my bones and muscles. Praying for a CURE.

  2. Delaine D B

    I was diagnosed with Alpha Gal Jan, 2012. My antibodies were ten times the normal. I have not eaten beef since 2002 because of severe reactions if I even touched it still ate pork until the fall of 2011 when I started reacting to it. My reaction to pork was hives all over but no breathing problems like I had with beef.
    My doctor retested my blood this Jan, 2013 and my antibodies were back to normal. My doctor is still reluctant to let me eat mammal meats.
    My question is, have any of you gone back to eating meat after your antibodies returned to normal? I am still scared but want to get back to at least eating vegetables seasoned with pork even if I don’t sit down and eat a pork chop.

  3. Delaine D B

    I live in Shreveport but I canoe and stay on the river for days and nights at a time. Do not remember the last time I found a tick or tick bite but my antibodies are ten times the normal. We also go 4 wheeling in Colorado every year.

  4. Delaine D B

    One of my worst reactions caused me to vomit. I also have had stomach pain. DB

  5. Delaine D B

    Hi RF, I am just reading your note. Sorry. I had my second blood test two weeks ago and am anxious for the results. I had a reaction this week to something but not sure if I got some pork in my turkey sandwich. I react severely to beef with hives, throat and ears itching and vomiting. I get hives with pork. I do not eat any other mammal meats. I really miss the pork more than the beef. I have not had beef f
    or over 10 years but have been off the pork for 1 1/2 years. Down here, we use pork for seasoning of our vegetables so I am not enjoying vegetables.
    Enough for now.

  6. Betty C

    I was tested postive for alpha gal allergy in May 2012. I have since avoided all mammalian meat and have not had any further reactions. I carry EpiPens at all times.
    Is it safe for people who have this allergy to received the 2013 flu vaccine? I have not had the vaccine and was exposed 3 days ago. Is it safe to take the drug Tamiflu as a precaution or if I do get flu symptoms? My immune system is not what it was before the tick bite and I am sick more often now than before.

  7. RC

    I found out Monday that I also have this weird allergy. Dr. Kidd found out that this was most likely the culprit. I love to deer hunt and this is going to really suck. I live outside of BR and get bit by ticks all the time when we are in the woods. He said that that if I avoid it for awhile it could wane away. Does or did it cause nausea and digestive problems for y’all?

  8. Rf

    Hi DB. I too have alpha gal syndrome and live in Baton Rouge. Just diagnosed lat year. Anaphylactisis finally under control. Thanks to Dr Kidd. Would love to compare notes sometime.

  9. Tammy L C

    I have had these same symptoms, full anaphylatic reaction to pork and medication made from mammals (Embril, Orencia, Remicaid) to name a few. Finally I have an answer, thank you. I carry two epi pens and have been on the total avoidance diet for the last 10 years. I plan to talk to my family physician about getting the Alpha-gal IgE titer done.

  10. DB

    Where does this young lady live. I am an alpha-gal. Was just diagnosed so was wondering where she lives. I live in Louisiana.
    Thanks, DB
    People’s Pharmacy response: Alpha-gal is distributed where the lone star tick lives. That means throughout the Southeast, but even in certain other parts of the country.

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