Alpha-gal Syndrome or Red Meat Allergy Is caused by a tick bite that leads to the production of antibodies against carbohydrate galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose that is in the saliva of the tick. This same carbohydrate is present in red meat. If you have a reaction to the tick bite, where you make antibodies to this substance, then you may react to red meat which also has this carbohydrate.
This is typically a delayed reaction that occurs two or more hours after eating red meat.
Signs and Symptoms of Alpha-gal Syndrome may include:
- Hives, itching, or itchy, scaly skin (eczema)
- Swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat, or other body parts
- Wheezing or shortness of breath
- A runny nose
- Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
- Anaphylaxis – the most deadly reaction of all
Treatment consists of avoidance of red meat for at least two years (after that the reaction may go away) and to carry an Epi-Pen.
A blood test will be done to determine whether or not you have this condition.