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Travellers warned over tick bites

31 July 2012 12:06

A tick bite can have surprising and lingering effects

A tick bite can have surprising and lingering effects

Strange but true, if a tick bites you, a steak may lose its appeal, scientists report.

A tick bite can kick-start a severe allergic reaction to red meat, researchers have found.

In the US, three cases of the bizarre reaction were identified when patients had severe symptoms a few hours after a meal of red meat.

Tick bites, specifically those from the Lone Star tick, were found to trigger the delayed allergic response, experts found.

The tick injects a carbohydrate compound into the bloodstream when it bites. This compound is also present in meat. The tick bite triggers the human immune system to act up the next time it faces the compound.

When a bite victim next takes his own bite of red meat, the result can be an outbreak of hives, or even potentially fatal anaphylactic shock.

Virginia Commonwealth University researcher Dr Susan Wolver and her colleagues described their work in the Journal of Internal Medicine:

"Where ticks are endemic, for example in the south-eastern United States, clinicians should be aware of this new syndrome when presented with a case of anaphylaxis. Current guidance is to counsel patients to avoid all mammalian meat - beef, pork, lamb and venison."

Travellers planning a trip to the US, particularly the south-eastern area of the country, may want to consider buying medical travel insurance before departure.