tick bite and alpha-gal allergy

For some years, emergency doctors and allergists were puzzled by people who started having extremely serious allergic reactions in the middle of the night, a long time after they had eaten or drunk anything or had any contact with obvious allergens. Smart sleuthing from our guest and his colleagues determined that a tick bite can set a person up for an unusual hours-delayed allergic reaction to eating beef, pork, lamb or any other type of mammalian meat. We call this type of reaction after the bite of a lone star tick an alpha-gal allergy. People with this condition have to avoid red meat. Some of those who suffer from it say that they can’t even drink milk or eat cheese.

What Is the Story on Tick Bite and Alpha-Gal Allergy?

Dr. Scott Commins was part of the original research team that identified this problem. He can explain exactly what is going on and why people may react in such varied ways to an alpha-gal allergy. If you have experienced alpha-gal and you have questions about it, Dr. Commins can answer them.

How can you avoid tick bites? When you go out in the woods, or even across a lawn with tall grass, wear long pants with your socks pulled up over the cuffs. Even better, add tick-repelling gaiters. It is very important to take off your clothes and inspect yourself carefully when you come in from outside. Don’t miss the spots where ticks like to hide, such as the groin or the armpits.

Other Summertime Allergies:

Have you ever had an allergic reaction to an insect sting? What should you do about it? Ask Dr. Commins for advice on this common summertime hazard.

We will also discuss a few of the other concerns that may arise around a tick bite. In addition, we’ll consider food allergies in adults and kids. The alpha-gal picture for people who are allergic to meat is unusual partly because of the delay. Most food allergies strike quickly. How should you respond? Is there a way to be prepared for an allergic reaction?

Do You Have a Question?

Call in your questions about alpha-gal and other allergies: 888-472-3366 between 7 and 8 am EDT on Saturday, June 1, 2019. Or send us email: radio@peoplespharmacy.com

This Week’s Guest:

Scott P. Commins, MD, PhD, is Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Chris Polydoroff took the photograph of Dr. Commins.

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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Air Date:June 1, 2019

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  1. Connie
    North Georgia

    I was diagnosed with Alpha Gal 6 mos ago. My internal medicine and allergist hardly know anything about this. I feel much better now that I am avoiding beef, pork, and lamb. Using soy milk and trying to avoid dairy. But my stomach still stays upset and cramps a lot of the time. What do you recommend I can do to help feel better?

  2. Barbara Krueger

    Another tip that I have read about and used is to take a lint-removal roller (the ones with sticky tape) to your clothes when you come in from outside. This will help find any ticks that may come inside on your clothes.

  3. Debra

    Thank you for spotlighting this article again. It was a radio show you had done on Alpha Gal that tipped me off to what might be wrong when my symptoms began following a bad tick bite. That was 3 years ago. Thanks to keeping this in the public eye, others can be tested and receive medical care without going through weeks or months of reactions not knowing the mammal consumed is the trigger. You always provide great information to help us get and stay healthy.

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