Alpha gal, this sounds nice but you do not want to get it
This past week we learned about a new tickborne disease known as Alpha-gal. It has gotten off main street media very quickly. It is important to discuss this disease. Alpha gal was first recognized in 2010. The Lone Star tick sensitizes our immune system against proteins, therefore it is not a true disease, but an allergy.
After being bitten by the Lone Star tick our immune system is sensitized to an oligosaccharide- Galactose-alpha-1-3 galactose which is found in beef, pork, Lamb, venison, and rabbit. It also can be found in gelatin, milk, and milk products.
The diagnosis is primarily symptoms and a laboratory test known as immunoglobin E (IgE). IgE, response to an allergen in 2 hours or more. I have seen allergies that cause symptoms 24 hours after exposure, which makes it difficult to find the culprit. I would also recommend a skin scratch test to confirm the diagnosis. However, since this is a rare an underdiagnosed allergy, I do not think you will find this test available.
This tick is found in New York State and is one of the hot spots for this allergy according to the CDC. Proper precautions should be taken when in wooded areas especially because there are no antibiotics or medical treatment that can fix this problem. Symptoms may be minimized by proper lifestyle improvements.
Symptoms vary according to the individual’s health, immune system, and lifestyle. What we all should do is to enhance our immune system, in particular gut health, which I discussed in numerous previous posts.
This newly recognized allergy gives us an opportunity to think about how one gets an allergy. A certain event, such as in this case a tick bite, stimulates the immune system to recognize Alpha-gal as an invader. Other allergies such as dairy, eggs, peanuts, and the vast number of other food allergies had a precipitating event or an unbalanced immune system. Even with a detailed history these events may not be recognized. It is important to recognize what you are allergic to and avoid the allergen and to develop a robust immune system.