love eating meat? stay away from this tick

Have you heard about the tick that causes meat allergies? One bite, and your body can become allergic to a sugar called alpha-gal that’s found in non-primate mammary animals. Animals like cows, pigs, and lamb.

Once affected, reactions to eating meat vary from something mild that an over-the-counter drug could manage, to something as extreme as anaphylactic shock. It’s like a new form of Russian roulette.

This tick is spreading like wildfire across the southeastern United States. When I visited Kentucky earlier this month, ticks were more plentiful than I’d ever seen them. I felt I constantly picked them off of me, my dogs, my pillow, my arm. You name it.

One tick I saw with some frequency was a very small one with a white dot on its back. We wondered if it was a deer tick, carrier of Lyme’s disease. I trapped one on a lint roller to keep it from crawling around wreaking havoc. That’s what the picture is below.

tick on roller
Tick (large dark mass) on the lint roller

The above image was for the purposes of scale. The image below offers a better look.

tick close-up
lone star tick close-up

This close up shows the tick with two of its dismembered legs laying off to the side. (I know, gross!) The rest of the legs are curled up tightly around its body. You can easily see the white dot on the center of its back. This is the lone star tick: culprit of meat allergies.

This tick is bad news for a lot of meat lovers. Especially if you live in the southeastern United States and spend any time in nature.

There’s always a bright side though. The tick is great news for people like me who think we collectively eat way more meat than is good for us or the environment. That’s not to say I want to see anyone get sick from this bug. I don’t. But I admit I’m thrilled about the possibility of a severe reduction, if not elimination of meat from our diets. I’m almost giddy at the thought. In fact, why wait to be bitten before you quit the meat-eating habit?

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