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Food Allergies: Tick bite may result in allergy to meat

The villain is Lone Star tick. There's no known cure for allergy; best prevention - avoid tick bites

By Joyce Coomer
Personal commentary

Another food allergy is appearing these days - an allergy to meat. Anyone who has this allergy cannot eat any type of red meat -- beef, pork, venison, etc. - and has to be extremely vigilant about every food they are considering consuming - in restaurants and what they purchase at the grocery to cook at home. This allergy is caused by the Lone Star tick. There is no known cure for this meat allergy.

Beef products may be in forms other than food at meals

Because beef and beef byproducts are in so many items we routinely purchase for everyday use, this food allergy can cause reactions from things you would never consider avoiding because of a food allergy -- medicines and supplements in gelcap or capsule form (and some vaccines and medicines given only in shot or IV form), soaps, hair dyes (and nearly every other hair care product), orthopedic implants, poison ivy creams -- the list is nearly endless. Another sly side to this allergy is that the symptoms don't appear immediately as with nut allergies, but appear anywhere from an hour to three or four hours later, as the food is digested.

It's astounding how many things contain beef byproducts

I have a friend who acquired this allergy last year, and after a couple of trips to the emergency room she found a doctor who had heard of the allergy and who asked if she had had a tick bite recently. She has had allergic reactions to things that weren't food. I consulted my "Where's The Beef" listing printed in Discover Magazine several years ago -- it is astounding how many things contain beef byproducts. My friend has to check the label on each and every food item purchased and if the label states "natural flavor" she avoids that item since she has no idea if that "natural flavor" is from fruit or beef. She cannot eat anything deep-fried in restaurants as there may have been a beef or pork item cooked earlier in the same grease. She cannot eat grilled fish in a restaurant because a steak may have been cooked on the grill. She has to be very careful when cooking at home because some turkey sausage she purchased had beef or pork in the casing and she had an allergic reaction from that.

Schools, hospitals need to be aware of this food allergy

Schools and hospitals need to be aware of this food allergy and purchase food items that have very few ingredients -- and with no listings of "natural flavor" or anything else that might be a beef byproduct. This includes any food with gelatin, shortenings (including vegetable oils) and even precooked meats (including turkey) as gelatin is used in some processed meat items to improve slicing.

Bad as tick bites are, writer doesn't advocate use of pesticides in battle with ticks

While I know tick bites aren't good, and ticks can spread several different diseases, I do not advocate usage of pesticides to clear ticks from the environment. When one is going to be outside for any length of time, there are several anti-tick products on the market that can be used. I purchased a yellow coil mosquito repeller last summer and found out it kept ticks off also, even though I had the coil around my hair instead of my wrist as indicated on the package.

Protective clothing advised

When you are going to be in an area where you are apt to get ticks on you, wear long pants, tied or fastened tightly around the ankle. Wear shoes AND socks. Wear long sleeved shirts with a cuff that can be tightened around the wrist. Hats are helpful if you're going to be under trees. Brush your clothing before going inside -- preferably while several feet from your house. I hear people talk about some lotions keeping mosquitoes at bay -- I don't know if they work on ticks but you could give them a try.

There is plenty of information on the web about ticks, diseases they carry, how to avoid getting ticks on you, how to remove ticks, and what symptoms appear from diseases ticks carry. Inform yourself.

Joyce M. Coomer

This story was posted on 2014-04-17 10:21:21
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