Allergy clinic finds large percentage of anaphylaxis cases from tick bite meat allergy

July 30, 2018

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL - (JULY 30, 2018) - An increase in the Lone Star tick population since 2006, and the ability to recognize the ticks as the source of "alpha gal" allergy to red meat has meant significantly more cases of anaphylaxis being properly identified.

A new study in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the scientific publication of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) showed that at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, alpha-gal ( a complex sugar found in red meat from beef, pork, venison, etc.) was the most common known cause of anaphylaxis. In previous studies of anaphylaxis, researchers were often unable to identify the source of the severe allergic reaction.

"Of the 218 cases of anaphylaxis we reviewed, 33 percent were from alpha gal," says Debendra Pattanaik, MD, lead author of the study. "When we did the same review in 1993, and again in 2006, we had a great many cases where the cause of the anaphylaxis couldn't be identified. That number of unidentified cases dropped from 59 percent in 2006 to 35 percent in this report - probably from the number of identified alpha gal cases. Our research clearly identified alpha gal as the cause of anaphylaxis in the majority of cases where the cause was detected. Food allergies were the second leading cause, accounting for 24 percent."

The people in the study were seen between 2006 and 2016. The study notes that alpha gal allergy was first identified in 2008, so previous reviews wouldn't have taken it into consideration. Due to increased awareness of red meat allergy, and more diagnostic testing available, alpha gal allergy went from an unknown entity to the most commonly identified cause of anaphylaxis at this center.

"We understand that Tennessee is a state with a big population of Lone Star ticks, and that might have influenced the large number of alpha gal cases we identified," says allergist Jay Lieberman, MD, vice chair of the ACAAI Food Allergy Committee and a study co-author. "The Lone Star tick is predominantly found in the southeastern United States and we would expect a higher frequency of anaphylaxis cases in this region would be due to alpha gal. However, the tick can be found in many states outside this region and there are already more cases being reported nationwide."

The remainder of the cases of anaphylaxis in the study were attributed to insect venom (18 percent) exercise (6 percent) systemic mastocystosis (6 percent) medications (4 percent) and other (3 percent).

A bite from the Lone Star tick can cause people to develop an allergy to red meat, including beef, pork and venison. The allergy is best diagnosed with a blood test. Although allergic reactions to foods typically occur rapidly, within 60 minutes of eating the food, in the case of allergic reactions to alpha-gal, symptoms often take several hours to develop. Because of the significant delay between eating red meat and the appearance of an allergic reaction, it can be a challenge to connect the culprit foods to symptoms. Therefore, an expert evaluation from an allergist familiar with the condition is recommended.

Allergists are specially trained to test for, diagnose and treat allergies. To find an allergist near you who can help create a personal plan to deal with your allergies and asthma, use the ACAAI allergist locator.
-end-
About ACAAI

The ACAAI is a professional medical organization of more than 6,000 allergists-immunologists and allied health professionals, headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill. The College fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research. ACAAI allergists are board-certified physicians trained to diagnose allergies and asthma, administer immunotherapy, and provide patients with the best treatment outcomes. For more information and to find relief, visit AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org. Join us on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

Related Asthma Articles from Brightsurf:

Breastfeeding and risks of allergies and asthma
In an Acta Paediatrica study, exclusive breastfeeding for the first 3 months was linked with a lower risk of respiratory allergies and asthma when children reached 6 years of age.

Researchers make asthma breakthrough
Researchers from Trinity College Dublin have made a breakthrough that may eventually lead to improved therapeutic options for people living with asthma.

Physics vs. asthma
A research team from the MIPT Center for Molecular Mechanisms of Aging and Age-Related Diseases has collaborated with colleagues from the U.S., Canada, France, and Germany to determine the spatial structure of the CysLT1 receptor.

New knowledge on the development of asthma
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have studied which genes are expressed in overactive immune cells in mice with asthma-like inflammation of the airways.

Eating fish may help prevent asthma
A scientist from James Cook University in Australia says an innovative study has revealed new evidence that eating fish can help prevent asthma.

Academic performance of urban children with asthma worse than peers without asthma
A new study published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology shows urban children with poorly controlled asthma, particularly those who are ethnic minorities, also suffer academically.

Asthma Controller Step Down Yardstick -- treatment guidance for when asthma improves
The focus for asthma treatment is often stepping up treatment, but clinicians need to know how to step down therapy when symptoms improve.

Asthma management tools improve asthma control and reduce hospital visits
A set of comprehensive asthma management tools helps decrease asthma-related visits to the emergency department, urgent care or hospital and improves patients' asthma control.

Asthma linked to infertility but not among women taking regular asthma preventers
Women with asthma who only use short-acting asthma relievers take longer to become pregnant than other women, according to research published in the European Respiratory Journal.

What are the best ways to diagnose and manage asthma?
A team of experts from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston examined the current information available from many different sources on diagnosing and managing mild to moderate asthma in adults and summarized them.

Read More: Asthma News and Asthma Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.