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How Common Is Alpha Gal Allergy

What Should I Do If I Have Ags

Tick Bites, âRed Meat Allergyâ? and Alpha-gal Syndrome: What’s the Connection?
  • AGS should be treated and managed under the care of an allergist or other healthcare provider.
  • Many foods and products contain alpha-gal you will need to work with your healthcare provider to understand which products you need to avoid.
  • Prevent tick bites. New tick bites may reactivate allergic reactions to alpha-gal.

Host And Tick Factors Contributing To Ags

Figure 1 Tick- and host-associated factors linked with alpha-gal syndrome.

Discovery of -gal epitope in cat dander prompted researchers to investigate its association with AGS. Though, significant research efforts are made in this area, possible association of cat ownership, -gal sensitization and AGS has not yet been fully rejected or established. There exist two contrasting research reports, one study reports increased level of anti–gal IgE, however, a study rejected this possibility because anti–gal IgE positivity was not observed when association was investigated by skin prick test .

Up To Ten Million Americans May Suffer From Rare Alpha

  • Around 3% of Americans – or around 10 million people – suffer from AGS, which causes a person to develop an allergy to red meat
  • The condition often arises as a result of a tick bite, and expert explains that since the tick saliva resembles red meat cells, the immune system attacks it
  • Many people who have the condition are unaware, as they may not realize the symptoms they are feeling are a result of the meat itself
  • It could take 12 hours for symptoms of the allergy to appear in a person, making it hard for them to connect the food to the symptoms

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Managing Food Allergies In Children

Because fatal and near-fatal food allergy reactions, like other food allergy symptoms, can develop when a child is not with his or her family, make sure your childs school, daycare, or other program has a written emergency action plan with instructions on preventing, recognizing, and managing these episodes in class and during activities such as sporting events and field trips.

If your child has been prescribed an auto-injector, be sure that you and those responsible for supervising your child understand how to use it. See an allergist for expert care and relief from meat allergy.

This page was reviewed for accuracy 5/8/2019.

What Areas Of The Us Are Affected By Alpha


The incidence of tick bites is much higher in the southern and eastern US, the traditional habitat for the tick. However, cases are now increasingly reported in the northern and western states. And it is a phenomenon that has been observed worldwide, with different ticks responsible for similar cases of red meat allergy in many other countries such as Sweden, South Africa and Australia.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Ags

  • AGS reactions can include:

  • Swelling of the lips, throat, tongue, or eye lids
  • Dizziness or faintness
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Symptoms commonly appear 2-6 hours after eating meat or dairy products, or after exposure to products containing alpha-gal .
  • AGS reactions can be different from person-to-person. They can range from mild to severe or even life-threatening. Anaphylaxis may need urgent medical care.
  • People may not have an allergic reaction after every alpha-gal exposure.
  • If you think you may have AGS go talk to your healthcare provider.
  • AGS can be severe, and even life-threatening. Seek immediate emergency care if you are having a severe allergic reaction.

    What Are The Symptoms Of An Alpha

    Alpha-gal patients often to have digestive symptoms, such as severe abdominal cramping, diarrhea, vomiting, along with skin symptoms like hives, itching, or flushing. Unlike most food allergies, these symptoms typically occur 3-6 hours after eating red meat. A delayed anaphylaxis reaction is also a risk for some patients, although reactions are more often mild.

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    What Tick Causes The Red Meat Allergy

    One little bugger the lone star tick appears to be the main source of AGS in the United States. The tick has long called southeastern states home, but its range has now expanded into the Midwest and Northeast.

    The lone star tick is very aggressive, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Its most active from early spring through late fall.

    The name comes from the appearance of the adult female, which has a single white dot or lone star on its back. Aside from AGS, its bite can lead to Lyme disease, Heartland virus, Bourbon virus and Southern tick-associated rash illness .

    However, other tick species havent been ruled out as potential sources of AGS. There are other parts of the world where this phenomenon has been identified, and the lone star tick is not there, notes Dr. Perez.

    What Is An Alpha

    UNC doctor calls Alpha-gal meat allergy ‘tremendously underdiagnosed’

    Over the last decade, there has been an increase in the diagnosis of the alpha-gal allergy, also known as a red meat allergy, although it has likely been around longer. Alpha-gal is a sugar found in red meats, including beef, pork, venison, and lamb. A small percentage of adults and children have developed allergic reactions to red meat after being bitten by a tick who transferred alpha-gal to them.

    Heres a video of Dr. Turbyville discussing this allergy on Kentucky Afield:

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    When To See A Healthcare Provider

    If you suspect you might have an alpha-gal allergy, you should contact your healthcare provider.

    Alpha-gal allergy can be serious and potentially life-threatening, as it can cause anaphylaxis, which warrants immediate medical attention.

    If you suspect you are experiencing a severe reaction, immediately see a healthcare provider.

    Notes About Your Symptoms When They Occurred And What Foods You Ate Prior To The Onset Of Symptoms


    Include information about the following symptoms and any other symptoms you have experienced:

    • Classic allergic symptoms, including any rashes or swelling
    • Gastrointestinal symptoms, like pain, cramping, diarrhea, vomiting, or heartburn
    • Joint pain/arthritis
    • Include information about any foods you ate within ten hours prior to developing symptoms.

    Medications/medical products

    • Bring a written list of any medications and/pr supplements that you take.
    • Note any adverse reactions you have had to medications, vaccines, or other medical products.

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    What Foods Can We Eat

    As far as we know, alpha-gal is not typically found in:

    • Birds, like chicken, turkey, quail, and emu dont normally express alpha-gal , although alpha-gal has been found in the ocular tissue of some birds
    • Most reptiles, like snakes, crocodiles, and lizards , although Green Sea Turtles have high levels of alpha-gal epitopes and cobra venom also contains it
    • Alligator meat does not seem to be a problem for most people with AGS
  • Amphibians, like frogs, with the exception of some amphibian eggs
  • Fish or seafood except for flounder eggs and the eggs of some other teleost fish
  • Crustaceans, like shrimp, prawns, crawfish, crabs, and lobster
  • Molluscs, like oysters, mussels, and clams
  • Plants, including fruits, vegetables, and grains
  • Note that algae are not plants, and red algae do contain alpha-gal.
  • Edible fungi, like mushrooms
  • Exception: koji, which is made from aspergillus fungi
  • Poultry sausages may have casings made from the intestines of mammals.

    Some of these foodsespecially chicken, turkey, and seafoodmay be injected, treated or sprayed with mammalian substances or carrageenan or otherwise contaminated by them. These may be listed among the ingredients, but if they are considered a processing aid, as with gelatin used to clarify juice and wine or carrageenan sprayed on cut fruit or fish, they will not be.

    Some people with AGS report reacting to canned tuna for reasons that are not clear but which may be related to the use of processing agents or fillers.

    What Happens If You Have Alpha

    gal syndrome the gal syndrome describes an ige mediated allergy to

    Alpha-gal symptoms differ from other allergic reactions in that they are significantly delayed. Reactions to animal products will happen within eight hours of eating. This delay, and the relative newness of alpha-gal’s discovery, means the syndrome goes undiagnosed.

    Alpha-gal syndrome reaction symptoms often involve:

    • Rashes
    • Any food with any sort of mammalian product
    • Drugs, medicines, hygiene products, and household products with animal bi-products
    • Anything with the thickening agent carrageenan
    • Flounder eggs
    • The cancer medicine cetuximab

    You can take antihistamines or another type of allergy medicine to manage your symptoms if you have a reaction. However, if you are having an extremely severe reaction, you will need to be injected with epinephrine or even go to the emergency room. Many people with alpha-gal even carry around an EpiPen.

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    The Lone Star Tick And Red Meat Allergy: Should You Be Concerned

    Recent headlines have grabbed attention due to proclamations of the Northward march of the Lone Star tick. Ticks are found through the United States and like to live in warm places close to their favorite meal . Ticks typically feed on rodents, deer, and even the family dog, but can be transferred to humans and bite us as well. Tick bites are typically painless and may not occur for hours after they first latch on to our scalp or body. Ticks are extremely small and hard to find, often hiding in our scalps or mimicking birthmarks.

    While most tick bites are painless and often go unnoticed, ticks can cause serious problems for humans by transmitting infectious diseases such as Lyme Disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Now, a relatively new form of allergy has also been linked to the bite of the Lone Star tick.

    Lone Star ticks are endemic to the Southern United States but have now been identified in Northern states. When ticks bite humans, they expose elements of their saliva to our blood stream. Lone Star tick saliva contains a carbohydrate called galactose-a-1,3-galactose . Heres what you need to know:

    • Humans do not produce alpha-gal
    • Individuals bitten by the Lone Star tick can develop an allergy antibody to alpha-gal
    • Red meat contains alpha-gal
    • People who are sensitized to alpha-gal after a Lone Star tick bite may then develop an allergy to red meat
    • This does NOT cause an immediate allergic reaction to the tick bite itself

    Lone Star Tick Territory Grows

    Its part of an overall trend. The number of reported tickborne diseases more than doubled from 2004 through 2016, the CDC reported in 2018. During that period, seven new germs that spread through tick bites were discovered in the U.S.

    Health departments reported a record number of cases of tickborne disease to the CDC in 2017. The number declined somewhat in 2019, the last year for which statistics were available, but was still the second-highest in recent years.

    The lone star tick is widespread in the southeastern and eastern U.S., and is now being found as far north as Maine, Wisconsin and Canada. A crowdsourced map is keeping track of alpha-gal allergy cases worldwide.

    One reason may be the explosion of the deer population on the East coast, said Dr. Thomas Platts-Mills, who heads the division of allergy and clinical immunology at the University of Virginia and who helped discover the link between the lone star tick and the allergy.

    A deer can carry 500 ticks primarily lone star ticks, he said.

    This is a very odd situation: most ticks are specific for some animal, so there are dog ticks, pig ticks, cattle ticks these ticks really dont like humans much. But the lone star tick really does like humans, Platts-Mills said. Weve got deer on the lawns and theyre dropping these ticks everywhere.

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    Clinical Characteristics Of The

    One of the most characteristic features of the -Gal syndrome, and the one which also attracted particular attention, is the delayed onset of allergic symptoms after food consumption. Although cases with earlier onset of symptoms have been described , in most patients with IgE antibodies against -Gal the onset of the symptoms occurs 36 h after the intake of mammalian meat . This delay in reactions differs significantly from the onset of symptoms caused by protein food allergens, which typically starts within 1 h, often within minutes, following ingestion of the allergenic food. However, food allergic reactions are only one aspect of the -Gal syndrome, the other aspect being reactions after infusion or injection of drugs and other medical products with -Gal containing mammalian ingredients. The best studied reactions are immediate anaphylactic reactions following first-time intravenous administration of cetuximab, a chimeric mouse-human monoclonal IgG antibody against the epidermal growth factor receptor , which is applied in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer . These reactions can be rapid in onset and even immediate .

    What Causes An Alpha

    Alpha Gal Syndrome | Allergy to Red Meat

    In the United States, this allergy has been primarily connected to the lone star tick. However, cases of alpha-gal has been found all over the world where other types of ticks, meaning the type of tick may not be a factor. When bitten the tick transfers the alpha-gal sugar to the persons bloodstream, which lead to sensitization to alpha-gal in that person.

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    Ags Reactions Can Include:

    • Cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing
    • Drop in blood pressure
    • Swelling of the lips, throat, tongue, or eye lids
    • Dizziness or faintness
    • Severe stomach pain

    Symptoms usually appear 26 hours after eating meat or dairy products, or after exposure to products containing alpha-gal . People may not have an allergic reaction after every alpha-gal exposure.

    If you think you may have AGS see your healthcare provider.

    Red Meat Allergy Symptoms

    As mentioned already, the chemical histamine is the driving force behind reactions to red meat. It dilates blood vessels across the body and can lead to headaches, rashes, indigestion or stomach cramps, dizziness, diarrhoea, or vomiting. Symptoms can vary depending on how severely allergic you are to meat. Although uncommon in red meat situations, the severe or rapid spread of histamine can lead to anaphylactic shock, one of the most severe allergic reactions, causing fainting or cardiac arrest.

    Typically, the reason behind an allergic reaction to red meat is due to a carbohydrate allergen named alpha-gal. This allergen can develop at any stage in life and depends on blood type, other food allergies, or even a bite from a tick. Any of these factors can make us more sensitive to such an allergen and cause a reaction.

    One point to be aware of is that an allergic reaction to alpha-gal can take up to five hours to occur. This means that you can have meat and not have any reaction until up to five hours later. This is in stark contrast with many food allergen reactions that happen immediately after consumption.

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    Managing A Severe Food Reaction With Epinephrine

    A food allergy, including a meat allergy, can cause symptoms that range from mild to life-threatening the severity of each reaction is unpredictable. People who have previously experienced only mild symptoms may suddenly experience a more severe reaction, including anaphylaxis. In the US, food allergy is the leading cause of anaphylaxis outside the hospital setting.

    Epinephrine is the first-line treatment for anaphylaxis, which results when exposure to an allergen triggers a flood of chemicals that can send your body potentially into shock if not treated promptly. Anaphylaxis can occur within seconds or minutes, can worsen quickly, and can be deadly.

    Once youve been diagnosed with a food allergy, your allergist will likely prescribe an epinephrine auto-injector and teach you how to use it. Check the expiration date of your auto-injector, note the expiration date on your calendar, and ask your pharmacy about reminder services for prescription renewals.

    If possible, have two epinephrine auto-injectors available, especially if you are going to be far from emergency care, as the severe reaction may reoccur. Epinephrine should be used immediately if you experience severe symptoms such as shortness of breath, repetitive coughing, generalized hives, tightness in your throat, trouble breathing or swallowing, or a combination of symptoms from different body areas such as hives, rashes, or swelling on the skin coupled with vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal pain.

    Delayed Allergic Response To

    Pin on Alpha

    Whereas in case of most food allergies, symptoms start within minutes or 12 h after ingestion of the offending food , one of the most typical characteristics of the -Gal syndrome is the late onset of the symptoms, usually starting 36 h after consumption of red meat . In vitro stimulation of basophils from -Gal allergic patients with -Gal either bound to glycoproteins or glycolipids showed that the basophil response occurs as fast as after stimulation with other food allergens . Furthermore, it is also known that intravenous administration of -Gal containing drugs, such as the anticancer monoclonal antibody Cetuximab, leads to immediate allergic reactions . Based on these observations it was concluded that the delayed reaction after meat consumption is neither due to an intrinsic property of the -Gal moiety nor to a retarded responsiveness of the basophils. Instead, it is more likely that the digestion and absorption of the -Gal molecules and the time taken by -Gal molecules from the ingestion until the appearance in the circulation might cause the delay in the reaction.

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    I Have Ags What Foods And Products Do I Need To Avoid

    • Not all patients with AGS have reactions to every ingredient containing alpha-gal.
    • Most healthcare providers recommend patients with AGS stop eating mammalian meat .
    • Depending on your sensitivity and the severity of your allergic reaction, your healthcare provider may also suggest you avoid other foods and ingredients which may contain alpha-gal .
    • Although very rare, some people with severe AGS may react to ingredients in certain vaccines or medications. Talk to your healthcare provider before taking a new medication or receiving a vaccine.

    What Patients Should Know About Alpha

    Lone Star Tick

    The most common foods that cause allergic reactions in people are milk, egg, fish, wheat, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, and soybeans. However, there have been reports of allergic reactions to many other types of foods, including red meat. Research shows that for a red meat allergy, unlike many food allergies, the cause can be connected to an environmental factor, a tick bite.

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