Doctors are discovering that a bite from an aggressive lone star tick can leave you with more than just an irritable rash — it can lead to a potentially dangerous meat allergy.
While most food allergies just take minutes or seconds for symptoms to appear, the allergy to mammalian meat (such as, lamb, beef and pork) caused by the lone star tick is much different, with doctors reporting it is nothing like a regular food allergy.
According to Dr. Scott Commins, an associate professor of medicine at the Thurston Research Center at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, the symptoms might prompt some for a visit to the ER.
“These [patients] would get hives and talk about G.I. distress, or needing to go to the restroom, and itching and swelling. Some would have to go to the ER to get treated,” he tells USA Today.
Symptoms include hives, shortness of breath and can lead to an anaphylactic reaction.
Reactions from the lone star tick have been predominantly reported on the southeast and eastern states, with cases now popping up in Missouri, Kansas, Georgia and New York thanks to the warmer environments. But though these ticks been confined for years on the eastern part of the U.S., they are now spreading northward and westward.
Ronald Saff, an allergist from Tallahassee, Florida tells the Kansas City Star that the bites can also be fatal with reactions not showing up until several hours after consumption, leaving many at a loss for what is ailing them.
“This is relatively new,” Saff said. “If you pick up a medical textbook ... you won’t find anything on [this allergy].”
Unfortunately, because it is so new, Saff says it may not be aware by many doctors. The allergist reveals that he sees several people a week showing signs of a red meat allergy caused by ticks, saying, “It’s a scary thing. This can kill people.”
Though there have been no reported deaths of the allergy, it is unknown if the allergy remains in someone’s system for life.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention writes the lone star tick is “very aggressive.” The female is distinguished by a white dot or “lone star” for which the species is named.
Experts Predict Increased Risk for Ticks and Lyme Disease This Season
WATCH: Gigi Hadid Praises Mom's Battle With Lyme Disease in Emotional Speech
Avril Lavigne Announces First Album Since Lyme Disease Diagnosis