Tick Bites Related to Meat Allergies?

Before you toss out the cow, pig and other tasty BBQ dinners, be sure to read the full study exploring the unproven theory that tick bites may be linked to a delayed allergy to some meats. Then ask yourself ...

1. Who in Virginia (where study originated) hasn't had a tick bite at some point in the past?

2. What diseases are ticks carrying that are not even identified yet? Could any of those diseases be causing someone to get hives or a similar rash?

3. How many of the foreign blood samples mentioned in the study, for example, were from people with red hair? How many of the blood samples came from people with diseases, besides cancer (as was the case here- both treated and untreated), that could have had a positive or negative affect in this case?

4. In the actual report it states, and remember possible ulterior motives and self-promotions can occur in ALL studies (NOT that it is happening here) .... "This assay [test] is now available commercially." [Someone might want to check out the patents on the tests before forming conclusions that would result in Porky sitting on someone else's plate.]

When you read the actual study and not just the hype surrounding it you may noticed some of the quotes below, then pause and say hmmmmmm?

"Over the last three years, we have had the opportunity to follow serum IgE responses prospectively in three individuals whose serum was available from before they experienced multiple tick bites. In each case, IgE antibodies to alpha-gal rose over twenty-fold after tick bites and there was a parallel, though not identical,rise in total IgE (Fig 1)."

"Furthermore, two of these individuals (#1 and #3 in Fig 1 and Table I) experienced an episode of generalized urticaria [RASH] three to four hours after eating red meat, something that had not occurred prior to the tick bites."

COMMENT- So, 2 out of 3 people in this study got a rash (hives) several hours after eating supper and all three had been bitten by ticks in the past.

Questions to ask yourself- Was milk or milk by-products part of the supper meal? Was a dog or cat nearby? Any of those factors could have caused the same reaction. Were the two people in the study being treated with antibiotics after the tick bites like they should have been and possibly developed "leaky gut" syndrome like those who take antibiotics are more prone to have happen?

Some Lyme and tick borne disease patients, both on and off antibiotics, have developed one or more (even 30 or more) new food allergies they never had in the past due to a weakened gut lining (caused by bacteria, parasites, yeast, antibiotic use, etc) that allows food particles to pass into the blood stream before they are completely broken down, causing an allergic/immune response to what the body believes is a foreign invader.

The "leaky gut" syndrome is often treated with L-Glutamine, an over the counter supplement (amino acid) that is often used by weight lifters to rebuild muscles lining and tissues that have broken down while exercising.

Another Question- Were the two people in the study reacting to the intake of antibiotics and meat combined rather than reacting to tick bites and the consumption of meat at a later time, or none of the above?

"In these two cases, the IgE antibodies to alpha-gal represented ≥30% of the total IgE. By contrast, in subject #2, IgE to alpha-gal rose from <0.35 to 8 IU/ml, but this accounted for less than 1% of the total IgE, and this individual has yet to report any allergic symptoms after eating mammalian meat. IgE antibodies to several other allergens were measured in serial samples from each of these individuals (Table I). The results show that none of the three developed new specificities of IgE antibodies, other than those that could be explained by IgE antibodies to alpha-gal (e.g., cat, dog, beef, and milk). While IgE antibodies to inhalants in sera from subject #2 did increase, these increases were much less than the increase in IgE to alpha-gal. In cases 1 and 2, the ticks responsible for the bites were identified as A. americanum."

"The positive results from Africa and Ecuador can only be interpreted as providing evidence that ticks could be the cause of these IgE antibodies, because other ectoparasites or helminths could be relevant (Table II)."

"Of note, the generally negative data from Norrbotten, Boston, and northern California argue strongly that eating food containing this oligosaccharide (e.g., beef or milk) does not induce sensitization to alpha-gal."

"As recently as January of 2006, we were totally unaware of this phenomenon. Our present results in Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee suggest that as many as 20% of the population in these states have serum IgE antibodies to alpha-gal. ... Nevertheless, we do not mean to suggest that 15% of the population in these states has an allergy to mammalian meat. We are aware of many individuals with IgE to alpha-gal (and beef) who do not have reactions after eating red meat."

"In the same study from Block Island where Lyme disease is highly endemic, it was found that the frequency of itch increased as the number of reported tick bites increased, suggesting that tick-related itch was associated with an acquired cutaneous hypersensitivity response."

"In other areas of the world, different ticks have been associated with allergic reactions in humans. In Australia, bites of Ixodes holocycluscan precede subsequent allergic reactions to beef.15 In Europe, the pigeon tick, Argas reflexus, is known to cause sensitization and anaphylactic reactions to subsequent bites from ticks of the same species.27,28 That tick has not been associated with allergic reactions to red meat, and the IgE antibodies have been shown to be specific for a protein.28 "

"Surprisingly, despite the severity of pruritic reactions locally and the presence of IgE antibodies to tick proteins, we are not aware of any cases of anaphylactic reactions to subsequent tick bites among patients we have seen. There is, however, one case report of anaphylaxis to a tick bite in the United States."

"The number of cases of delayed anaphylaxis being diagnosed in central Virginia and the surrounding areas has increased dramatically, suggesting that we might be looking at an epidemic. However, there were some cases of this condition being seen, if not correctly diagnosed, twenty years ago; in fact, two patients have recently come to see us and reported that they had told us the same story 15 and 18 years previously! COMMENT- [Scare factor- often used for setting the stage for acquiring more research money.]

And as predicted, a little farther down...

BINGO>>> Future studies will be directed at the possibilities for this, which include a symbiotic organism, bystander polyclonal IgE induced in the alpha-gal response, or a concomitant sensitization to tick salivary protein(s) or other oligosaccharide.

Please read the actual 2011 study before forming an opinion or accepting the tick bite/meat allergy theory as fact and tossing your meat out the window. Also, please step up your prevention efforts to try to avoid tick bites, even if you are a vegetarian.

The relevance of tick bites to the production of IgE antibodies to the mammalian oligosaccharide galactose-α-1,3-galactose

Scott P. Commins, MD, PhD,a,* Hayley R. James, BS,a,* Elizabeth A. Kelly, MD,a Shawna L. Pochan, CNM, MPH,a Lisa J. Workman, BA,a Matthew S. Perzanowski, PhD, MPH,b Katherine M. Kocan, PhD,cJohn V. Fahy, MD,d Lucy W. Nganga, MD,e Eva Ronmark, PhD,f Philip J. Cooper, MB BS, PhD,g,h andThomas A. E. Platts-Mills, MD, PhD, FRSa

Link to Study- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3085643/?tool=pubmed

Lucy Barnes