Doctors: Some tick bites causing red meat allergy - FOX Carolina 21

Doctors: Some tick bites causing red meat allergy

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Tick bites are causing allergic reactions to red meat, according to doctors.

Tom Cribbs was spending Memorial Day in Smithville.

"I had just installed the flagpole and I was raising it for the first time," Cribbs said. "I looked down and saw a tick on my ankle."

Cribbs was bit by a Lone Star tick.

"I didn't think much about it," he said. "I had a severe allergic reaction."

Cribbs had several allergic reaction, including rashes, hives and welts. He went to the ER. It took doctors 10 weeks to figure out why Cribbs was having the reactions.

"I was told basically for the next year I really can't eat any kind of red meat," Cribbs said.

Cribbs developed an allergy to red meat. Experts blame the allergy on Lone Star ticks in thousands of recent cases.

"The sugar from the tick engages your defense system that builds a defense, that then recognizes something on the meat as foreign and causes a foreign reaction to you," Dr. Bruce Wolf said.

Wolf said these insects plague Middle Tennessee. He said without proper treatment, the reactions could be deadly.

"This has a delayed onset for three to eight hours, so it's difficult for people to pick up what they ate that caused the reaction," Wolf said.

People can recover, as long as they avoid red meat.

Cribbs said he feels better already, knowing it could always be worse.

"Thank goodness it's not Lyme disease," he said.

Symptoms include hives, itching and swelling. Patients also experience anaphylaxis, a total breakdown of the body's defense system.

Diagnosis hinges on a blood test. Anyone who thinks something may be wrong after a tick bite is asked to see a doctor immediately.

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