Tick bites spark deadly allergic reactions to meat

By Oscar Rousseau

- Last updated on GMT

Mammalian meat allergies are almost nonexistent in adults not bitten by a tick
Mammalian meat allergies are almost nonexistent in adults not bitten by a tick

Related tags Beef Lamb Pork Poultry

Experts warn that tick bites are leading to a worrying number of people developing lethal allergic reactions to red meat, with Australia and America most at risk.

Cases of the tick-induced mammalian meat allergy have been reported in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America, but it is most prevalent and lethal in the US and Australia. The Tick Induced Allergies Research & Awareness (TIARA) group claims tick bites can lead to “mild to life-threatening​” allergic reactions to beef, lamb, pork, venison and goat – but interestingly, not chicken.

Sufferers of the mammalian meat allergy will commonly experience symptoms between two and 10 hours after eating red meat. And there is a strong correlation between these sufferers having been bitten by a tick within the prior six months.

Australian scientists have discovered that protein in the tick’s saliva are the allergens than can provoke anaphylaxis – an allergic reaction to a foreign toxin. Researchers at Royal North Shore Hospital believe they have found a blood test which can confirm if an allergic reaction to meat comes from tick bites.

Rare virus

Mammalian meat allergies are very rare in adults that have not been bitten by a tick.

Ticks are endemic in parts of Australia and the US, but tick-induced anaphylaxis – which can result in death – is rare anywhere outside Australia, according to The Guardian.

An expert following the issue of mammalian meat allergies in Australia, who asked not to be named, told GlobalMeatNews​ that TIARA tells people to avoid being bitten by ticks as “a lot of Aussies are quite laissez-faire about [the dangers of it]​”.

Currently there is not a lot of funding being put into research of tick-induced meat allergies in Australia, the source said.

Although contacted by this website, the World Health Organization was unable to comment on the issue.

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