A red meat allergy induced by bites from the Lone Star tick has only been recognized for about a decade, but it’s becoming more common and spreading throughout the Southeastern United States. Now a potential new therapy may help mitigate the allergy’s effects.

Researchers at the University of Virginia first published a paper on red meat allergy (formally called “anpha-gal allergy”) in 2009. The Lone Star tick was associated with the allergy two years later.

So far, there have been over 3,500 documented reports of red meat allergy in the United States. It’s now become global, however.

The Lone Star tick is associated with red meat allergy in the U.S., but other ticks and arachnids in other countries around the world have also now been associated with the rare allergy. Outside of North America, where the allergy has spread as far as New York and Ohio, other countries such as Australia, France, Germany and Sweden are also seeing a rise in red meat allergy rates.

A new therapy may hold promise for red meat allergy sufferers.

An immunotherapy “shot” that works similar to how stinging insect allergies are treated is being designed for the tick bite that causes red meat allergy. Development is in its early stages, but the team believes that they have isolated the source of the allergen carried by the tick, which would mean a source for the treatment would be forthcoming.

Luckily, red meat allergies usually fade with time and lack of exposure. So for most patients, going without red meat in their diet is a known “cure” for the allergy. Assuming no new tick bites occur.

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