When considering ticks, certain diseases may come to mind. Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever are two very common diseases transmitted by tick bites. The next time you work outside or do outdoor recreation, be aware of ticks and protect yourself from tick bites. The lone star tick has been linked to causing allergic reactions after eating red meat. 

The lone star tick is a vector that can spread disease. Mosquitos and fleas are other insects that spread disease. The Alpha-gal molecule is carried in the saliva of lone star ticks. People bitten by this tick can become sensitive and produce the immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibody. Unlike typical food allergies, which is a reaction to protein, this is a reaction to the carbohydrate galactose. This carbohydrate is found in most mammals, such as red meat animals. It can also be in products made from mammals. It is not found in poultry or fish.

Symptoms include rash, hives, difficulty breathing, drop in blood pressure, dizziness, fainting, nausea and severe stomach pain. These symptoms can occur in three to six hours after eating red meat. 

The Alpha-gal allergy can be severe, and potentially life-threatening. See a health care provider immediately for care.

Tick-borne diseases occur worldwide, including in your own backyard. To help protect yourself and your family, you should:

- Use a chemical repellent with DEET, permethrin or picaridin.

- Wear light-colored, protective clothing.

- Tuck pant legs into socks.

- Avoid tick-infested areas.

- Check yourself, your children and your pets daily for ticks and carefully remove any ticks you find. 

To learn more about the lone star tick and the Alpha-gal allergy, visit www.cdc.gov/ticks/alphagal

Other questions can be directed to the local K-State Research and Extension – Leavenworth County office at 613 Holiday Plaza in Lansing, or contact me at  913-364-5700 or chelsim@ksu.edu

Enjoy the outdoors while protecting yourself and your family from intruders like ticks.

Chelsi Myer is a family and consumer sciences agent for K-State Research and Extension – Leavenworth County.