About 450,000 people in the U.S. may have a tick-borne condition that causes a red meat allergy, and may not even know it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Alpha-gal syndrome (AGS) is a life-threatening illness caused by lone star tick bites that make people hypersensitive to a sugar molecule found in mammal-derived food, like meat and milk.
The lone star tick has been reported in 14 Pennsylvania counties since 2011, including Bucks, Delaware, Chester, and Philadelphia.
Between 2017 and 2021, there were more than 90,000 suspected U.S. cases of AGS, and new suspected cases increased each year by about 15,000. The CDC doesn’t know the exact number of total cases.
Ann Carpenter, one of the study’s authors, told Axios Philadelphia that the increase in suspected cases may be due to lone star tick expanding its geographic range, as well as the increased number of tests performed for the syndrome.
The study also showed that nearly 80% of surveyed healthcare providers had little or no knowledge about the condition.
To continue enjoying the outdoors, here are a few tips to stay tick-free:
☑️ Treat your clothes with permethrin
☑️ Check for ticks before returning inside
☑️ Use insect repellent
☑️ Wear long pants or socks when walking through the woods or tall grass