Doctor dispels several lone star tick myths

WICHITA, Kansas – The dog days of summer are here, and ticks continue to be a problem.

One in particular is slowly making its way across Kansas and according to doctors, carries a particular allergy.

One of the so-called myths surrounding the lone star tick is that just one bite will cause you to develop a red-meat allergy.

The lone star tick is becoming widespread, even here in Kansas where half the state is populated by the pesty insects.

CDC map of the lone star tick prevalence across the U.S.
CDC map of the lone star tick prevalence across the U.S.

Dr. Thomas Scott, an allergist with Via Christi said a bite from a lone star tick isn’t uncommon, but the disease it causes isn’t similar to the one other species of ticks can transmit.

He added that it can cause the allergy, but not everyone will fall victim to it.

“I’m sure there are a lot of people who get bitten and don’t get sick, remember this isn’t an infectious disease it’s an allergic disease,” said Scott.

Lone star ticks can potentially cause it’s victims to develop an allergy to red meat.

While many allergic reactions tend to happen almost instantly, Scott said this allergy might not set in for up to six hours.

“That’s unique, what happens is you’ll eat a hot dog, a burger, a steak or a lamb chop at dinner and you’ll wake up in the middle of the night with a problem,” said Scott.

Scott dispelled some of the myths surrounding the meat allergy from the lone star tick, one being the fact that someone will always have a reaction if they eat meat.

Scott says another unique feature is how unpredictable the allergy can be.

“They’ll say ‘I ate this the other day and I didn’t have a problem’ then they’ll come back and say they had a reaction eating at another time,” said Scott.

While some doctors have said that, over time, whether it’s months or even years, the allergy will stop.

Scott said that isn’t the case.

“Nobody has longitudinal studies, we don’t know how long this lasts, the hope is that it’s short term,” said Scott.

Scott said symptoms like hives and swelling are common from a lone star tick bite.

He added there is currently no form of treatment to reverse the meat allergy associated with the bite.

For more information, you can visit the CDC page here about the lone star tick.

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