One bite from a Lone Star tick and you might turn into a vegetarian. Some victims have developed an allergy to meat, breaking out in hives—or worse, anaphylactic shock—after eating beef, pork, or lamb.
According to the US Health and Human Services, “the [tick] injects spit into your body when it bites you. When this occurs, your body develops antibodies to a carbohydrate in the tick’s spit that is known as alpha-gal, a carbohydrate that is also present in red meat. The person then eats meat, and an allergic reaction is triggered.” The reaction “tends to occur within three to six hours after eating meat.”
Americans living in the central and southern parts of the country are more susceptible to Lone Star ticks, which inhabit various plains. A map by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows this sweeps through parts of Maine down to Florida, extending as far as central Texas. The rates of meat allergies in these regions incidentally are 32% higher than the rest of the country.
[via MedLine Plus]