Tick-Bite-Induced Red Meat Allergy

LonestarTickNancy C. Hinkle, Ph.D., University of Georgia

Extension staff are not physicians (nor do we portray them on television), but we can contribute to better health among Georgia citizens.  One emerging condition we want to keep in mind is red-meat allergy provoked by tick bites.

Yes, as strange as it sounds, being fed on by lone star ticks (the most common ticks in Georgia) can predispose some people to developing a severe food allergy, causing an itching skin rash, gastrointestinal upset, and trouble breathing several hours after consuming red meat (beef, pork, venison, lamb, etc. – but not poultry or fish).  This condition has only recently been recognized and many physicians are not yet aware of it; likely we’ll see more in the media about this condition in the future as it becomes more widely recognized.

Meanwhile, if you know someone who experiences repeated episodes of severe hives (typically affecting the entire trunk) accompanied by nausea and/or diarrhea, recommend that they consult with their physician and raise the possibility of red meat allergy due to prior tick exposure.  The accompanying life-threatening anaphylaxis and difficulty breathing can require an ER visit, so this is not a trivial condition.  While testing for the condition is available only at select clinics, management of the condition is relatively simple, involving eliminating red meat from the diet.

New Graphic Helps Consumers Make Informed Choices About Insect Repellents

Posted July 17, 2014 on the IPM in the South blog from the Southern Region IPM Center

The EPA unveiled a new graphic that will be available to appear on insect repellent product labels. The graphic will show consumers how many hours a product will repel mosquitoes and ticks when used as directed.

EPA Repellency label

The EPA’s new graphic will do for bug repellents what SPF labeling did for sunscreens. This new graphic will help parents, hikers and the general public better protect themselves and their families from serious health threats caused by mosquitoes and ticks that carry debilitating diseases. Incidence of these diseases is on the rise. The CDC estimates that there are nearly 300,000 cases of Lyme disease in the United States each year. Effective insect repellents can protect against serious mosquito- and tick-borne diseases.

The EPA is accepting applications from manufacturers that wish to add the graphic to their repellent product labels. The public could see the graphic on products early next year.