Tick-borne red meat allergy are an “emerging public health concern,” claim two recent research from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the CDC, alpha-gal, a type of sugar present in the bodies of most mammals, causes the allergic reaction known as alpha-gal syndrome (AGS), which can be significant and even fatal. The lone star tick, which transmits alpha-gal into the victim’s body and causes an immune system reaction, is the most common source of the syndrome.
Illness is underdiagnosed!
According to the CDC, the number of red meat allergy cases in the U.S. is underdiagnosed, and despite the condition’s widespread occurrence, many clinicians aren’t even aware it exists, much less know how to diagnose it. According to the CDC, more than 110,000 cases of red meat allergy were discovered between 2010 and 2022. The organization believes the red meat allergy illness is underdiagnosed since some healthcare practitioners are unfamiliar with AGS, some persons with symptoms choose not to get tested, and the true number of cases may be as high as 450,000.
Hives or an itchy rash, nausea or vomiting, heartburn or indigestion, diarrhoea, shortness of breath, and excruciating stomach pain are just a few of the symptoms of AGS. The normal onset of symptoms, which can be minor to severe, is two to six hours after ingesting alpha-gal products.
According to Dr. Ann Carpenter, an epidemiologist and the study’s principal author, “Alpha-gal syndrome is an important emerging public health problem, with potentially severe health impacts that could last a lifetime for some patients.” In order to appropriately assess, diagnose, and manage their patients as well as to prevent patients from contracting red meat allergy illness, she continued, practitioners must be knowledgeable about AGS.
Need for Education and Awareness
The authors stated that better education for healthcare professionals “might facilitate a rapid diagnosis of red meat allergy, improve patient care, and support public health understanding of this emerging condition.” Of a different study, the CDC examined testing between January 1, 2017, and December 31, 2022 to assess the rate of rise of AGS cases since 2010.
More than 34,000 suspected cases were found between 2010 and 2018. However, during the study period of 2017–2022, about 357,000 tests were conducted, yielding just over 90,000 good results. During the five-year study period, the number of new cases grew by roughly 15,000 annually, with the majority of cases occurring in the Southern, Midwestern, and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States, according to the CDC.
According to Dr. Johanna Salzer, senior author of both CDC studies, “the burden of alpha-gal syndrome in the United States could be substantial given the large percentage of cases suspected to be going undiagnosed due to non-specific and inconsistent symptoms, difficulties accessing healthcare, and lack of clinician awareness.” It’s crucial that persons who believe they may have AGS visit their doctor or an allergist, provide a thorough account of their symptoms, get a physical exam, and have a blood test to check for particular antibodies (immune system proteins) to alpha-gal.