Small Tick Bite Could Trigger Life-Changing Allergy

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September Norman developed a life-changing allergy about two and a half years ago. She woke up in the middle of the night with a severe reaction.

My whole body had giant hives all over it at that point. My husband told me my face looked like a giant red balloon. My lips looked like a clown, like I had painted them like a clown. They were so big and red,” explained Norman.

Her husband called 911 and emergency responders arrived just in time.

Upon examination medics told her that her throat could swell shut, blocking her airway, within a matter of minutes.

She recalled recently getting a tick bite. After testing, doctors determined she contracted the Alpha-Gal allergy.


The Alpha-Gal allergy is spread by the Lone Star Tick. Ticks get it from other mammals then pass it on to humans. A typical allergic reaction to Alpha-Gal occurs four to eight hours after eating meat from mammals, and in some cases dairy also causes a severe reaction.

Dr. Andrew Nickels with Vanderbilt University Medical Center says about 165 patients at his clinic have tested positive with this allergy.

I am not sure if we know quite if the Lone Star Tick itself is increasing in the population, or if we are seeing higher numbers of the tick. What we are seeing or what we are able to do is diagnose this Alpha-Gal condition more radially because over the last eight to ten years we’ve been able to identify this syndrome exists. We have really reliable lab tests now,” explained Dr. Nickels.

He went on to say that Alpha-Gal antibody levels can go down over time, especially if you are able to avoid tick bites for several months after testing positive.

The best way to protect yourself against the Lone Star Tick and contracting Alpha-Gal is to wear insect repellent containing deet. The same advice is relative to all ticks, as many species of ticks carry diseases, the most serious one being Lyme Disease.

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Check out the article below for more great tips on how to protect yourself from these nasty insects!

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