More and more people are being bitten by lone star ticks. This can lead to a tick bite allergy (called alpha-gal) that shows up as a dangerous delayed reaction to eating red meat. Some people develop hives or breathing difficulties or other signs of a serious allergic reaction hours after they have eaten beef, pork, lamb, goat, rabbit or other meat. (Poultry and fish do not trigger this reaction.)
We are hearing more frequently that this tick bite allergy can lead to reactions not only to meat but also to milk, cheese and even gelatin, as one reader reports:
Q. I was diagnosed with alpha gal allergy after many emergency department visits in the middle of the night with hives. I have avoided beef and pork and not had further problems.
Gummy Bear Reaction:
I diligently avoid animal by-products. One of my worst reactions before being diagnosed was to candy gummy bears. Gelatin could be a trigger because it contains animal cartilage. I now research any medication before taking it to be sure it does not contain gelatin.
A. Alpha gal allergy, triggered by a lone star tick bite, is a potentially deadly delayed reaction to eating meat from mammals (cows, pigs, sheep, etc). It makes sense for those with alpha gal sensitivity to avoid products with gelatin.