60-Second Science

Meat Allergy Reaches Regions without Ticks

Experts aren't sure why a meat allergy linked to tick bites is reaching areas beyond the ticks' range. Gretchen Cuda Kroen reports

Ticks are bad news. They spread Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. And they’re also responsible for an unusual food allergy—to meat. Yup, get bit by one of these buggers and it could be bye-bye BBQ.

The strange allergy has been linked to the particularly aggressive Lone Star tick. These tiny ticks are found primarily in the southeastern United States, the same place as most of the known cases of the meat allergy. Or so it seemed.

Researchers from Viracor-IBT, a company offering a diagnostic test for the allergy, found that the allergy is also appearing in places without the ticks—as far away as Hawaii. Experts aren’t entirely sure why. The ticks may be spreading, the allergy can possibly be triggered by other tick species or people are frequently getting bitten while traveling. The data was presented at the meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

The bottom line? Regardless of where you live, if you’re going to be outdoors and you love meat, get out the DEET.

—Gretchen Cuda Kroen

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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