Published on Jan 27, 2013 with 0 comment
As a practicing allergist, I was fascinated to read the report several months ago linking the development of red meat allergy to a previous tick bite. The reason that this caught my attention is that over the years, I observed the onset of allergy to beef after a snake bite. I observed this possible relationship in two or three patients who, several months after being bitten by a poisonous snake, developed anaphylaxis to all types of red meat. They were all skin test positive to beef. At the time I could find no such association described in the medical literature. But, since both allergy to red meat and a snake bites are such rare and infrequent events, in retrospect, I regret that I did not write my observations and publish them in the medical literature, especially in light of these recent findings.
My hypothesis regarding the possible connection between snake bite and red meat allergy was that the patient likely developed auto-antibodies to the necrotic muscle protein at the site of the bite. This is akin to the researchers findings that patients who were bitten by the tick developed antibodies to the protein alpha-gel, which is also present in red meat. It would then follow that these antibodies, now present in the previously bitten and sensitized subject would react upon the ingestion of red meat. The researchers described a delayed reaction, including swelling, hives, and difficulty breathing, occurring three to six hours after the ingestion of red meat.
The cases recently described by allergists at Virginia Commonwealth University identified the Lone Star Tick as the likely culprit. This tick is widely found in the southeast United States. And, so are venomous snakes!