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Health, Wellness, Sex and Body Discuss Can Ticks Make You Allergic to Red Meat? at the General Discussion; A few years ago, Dr. Thomas Platts-Mills, the director of the University of Virginia School of Medicine’s allergy division, conducted ...

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Old 03-28-2015, 03:48 PM
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Post Can Ticks Make You Allergic to Red Meat?

A few years ago, Dr. Thomas Platts-Mills, the director of the University of Virginia School of Medicine’s allergy division, conducted an informal experiment. He spent five hours hiking and bushwhacking in the Blue Ridge Mountains, near his home in Charlottesville, Virginia. Afterward, his feet itched. When he pulled off his shoes and socks, the skin around his ankles was rough and pimpled. He suspected that he had stumbled into a nest of lone-star ticks, the most abundant species of tick in the southeastern United States, named for a distinctive, Texas-shaped white splotch that forms on the backs of adult females. “There were ticks all over the house,” he told me. “Luckily, my wife was not home.”

Adult lone-star ticks can carry the pathogens that cause several diseases: Rocky Mountain spotted fever; Southern tick-assocated rash illness, which manifests in Lyme-like symptoms; and ehrlichiosis, a cluster of related bacterial illnesses. (Michael Specter wrote about tick-borne disease in the magazine last year.) But Platts-Mills, who is the only allergist in the Royal Society, embarked on the hike because he believed that the ticks could cause another ailment: an allergy to red meat.

Platts-Mills first heard about allergic reactions to meat over twenty years ago, when a handful of patients at his practice claimed that a few hours after eating meat at dinner they woke up slicked in sweat, their throats closing, with blotchy rashes splashed across their torsos. Platts-Mills told them to avoid beef, pork, lamb, or venison, but suspected that the allergy was psychosomatic, and gave it little further thought.

Then, in the spring of 2000, one of Platts-Mills’s colleagues, Roger B. Cohen, now at the University of Pennsylvania, came to him with a problem. Cohen had been working on clinical trials for cetuximab, a drug therapy that slows the growth of certain cancer cells. Despite its promise in treating cancer, cetuximab occasionally caused allergic reactions in patients, comparable to bad bee stings. Platts-Mills worked to unravel the root cause of the allergy, but it eluded him.

In 2004, cetuximab received F.D.A. approval for treating colorectal cancer. Soon afterward, Bert O’Neil, then an oncologist in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, reported that nearly a quarter of his patients suffered from itching, swelling, and a dangerous drop in blood pressure when they took the drug. Curiously, however, the reactions were regional: they were about ten times as likely to occur in the southeast as elsewhere in the country; a patient in Tennessee died. (O’Neil says his team’s allegation seemed so unlikely that an oncologist in New York “thought we were lying or crazy.”)

Working with Bristol-Myers Squibb, cetuximab’s distributor, and numerous colleagues, Platts-Mills returned to his study of the drug, and began comparing blood drawn from patients with allergic reactions to control samples from California, Boston, and Tennessee. In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, he identified the cause of the symptoms: the allergic patients had preëxisting antibodies to alpha-gal, a sugar found in non-primate mammals, that cetuximab, derived from genetically modified mice, contains.

Mystery solved, mostly. What doctors lacked, however, was a satisfying explanation for what caused the antibodies, known as Immunoglobulin E, or IgE, that made patients so sensitive to alpha-gal; suspects included mice and tapeworms, an insidious mold creeping across the South, or a contagion that seemed to coincide with summer heat and humidity. (The packaging for cetuximab warns about the possibility of severe allergic reactions, and a spokeswoman for Bristol Myers-Squibb says that the reason for hypersensitivity to the drug is still unknown.) As Platts-Mills pondered a list of possible parasites, a technician in his lab, Jacob Hosen, noticed that states with a large number of reactions to cetuximab neatly overlapped with the range of Rocky Mountain spotted fever. As Platts-Mills began to suspect that ticks were connected to the alpha-gal sensitivity, a forty-three-year-old hunter came into his clinic claiming that he had suffered from three separate severe allergic reactions to eating beef, which contains alpha-gal. When Platts-Mills asked about ticks, the hunter revealed that his feet were covered with bites. Platts-Mills began to screen patients who reported tick bites or red-meat allergies for IgE.

Shortly afterward, Platts-Mills went on his own tick-infested journey through the woods, half-attempting to prove his theory. When he ran samples of his own blood, he found that his IgE antibody count had spiked. Later that year, he ate three lamb chops for dinner. Several hours later, around 1 A.M., he woke up covered in hives.
Can Ticks Make You Allergic to Red Meat? - The New Yorker

Holy crap!
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Old 03-28-2015, 05:04 PM
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Default Re: Can Ticks Make You Allergic to Red Meat?

i dont understand the genetically modified mice thing. do the ticks first bite the mice?
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Old 09-12-2017, 12:03 AM
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Deadly tick gets loose...

Officials announcing outbreak of deadly disease spread by ticks in Japan bring an insect to press conference... and it ESCAPES
8 September 2017 | A news conference descended into chaos after a deadly insect disappeared; Meeting had been called to raise awareness about Thrombocytopenia syndrome; The Japanese governor was left red-faced and forced to issue a public apology
A Japanese news conference which aimed to raise awareness of a tick-borne disease ended in disaster when a live tick disappeared. The governor of Miyazaki prefectural was left red-faced when he was forced to apologise on Tuesday, a day after the debacle. Monday's conference had been organised by the Miyazaki prefectural government to raise awareness about the tick-borne disease Thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS), after a number of residents in the district had fallen ill with it.

Moments before the deadly tick disappears: An official attempts to pick up the live insect with a pair of tweezers

SFTS can be deadly, with symptoms including fever, a reduction in the cells that clot blood to prevent people from bleeding out, nausea and vomiting, and a decline in white blood cells which help fight off infection in the body. Despite prefectural government officials carrying out a desperate search for the insect - even roping in reporters to help them - the little critter could not be found. The room was later sprayed with insecticide, according to officials. 'We should have been more careful about safety management as the prefecture is in a position to alert its people,' said Miyazaki governor Shunji Kono. A live tick and a dead one had been brought along to the event for the press to photograph but when an official attempted to pick up the live one with tweezers it disappeared.

One live and one dead tick were brought into the press conference so the media could take photographs and help raise awareness about Thrombocytopenia syndrome

Last month, the Ehime prefectural government announced the death of a farmer in his 60s from the city of Shikokuchuo after he fell ill with spotted fever as a result of a tick bite. SFTS is a relatively new infectious disease which has so far been found in China, Korea and Japan. Symptoms usually develop within two weeks of the initial infection. According to Japanese media, the first reported case of SFTS contracted from a tick bite was in 2013, but the syndrome was first discovered in China in 2009. The virus is said to have high fatality rates of up to 30 per cent and people aged over 50 are more at risk. Japan's health ministry has previously issued a warning for people in contact with animals in poor physical condition to be careful.

Deadly tick escapes during Miyazaki press conference | Daily Mail Online
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