Friday, April 28, 2017
Tick bites that trigger severe meat allergy on rise around the world
Cases of the emergent allergy have been reported in Europe, Asia, Central America and Africa, but it is most prevalent – and on the rise – in parts of Australia and the United States where ticks are endemic and host populations are booming.
Bandicoots and other small native mammals are flourishing along the east coast where the Australian paralytic tick is endemic.
The Lone Star tick is widespread throughout the US, but meat allergies have been reported in the south-eastern states, home to growing herds of white-tailed deer.
But tick bite-induced anaphylaxis – the most acute allergic reaction, which can result in death – is rare in countries other than Australia. Around Sydney’s northern beaches, where ticks are common, it is reportedly as prevalent as peanut allergies.
Meat allergies are exceedingly rare in adults who have not been bitten by ticks.
The link was first reported in November 2007 by Sheryl van Nunen, a clinical immunology specialist at the Royal North Shore hospital in Sydney.
Van Nunen told Guardian Australia that she had observed the association “some years before” 2007. She now diagnoses one to two patients every week.
Jana Pearce was diagnosed with mammalian meat allergy by Van Nunen after suffering an anaphylactic shock in May 2010. She had been bitten by a newly hatched tick 10 days before and had developed a “massive” rash.