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If this tick bites you, you become allergic to meat – and they’re spreading

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Gary Ogden
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Getting bitten by anything is bad and annoying – a spider, a tiger, a snake, Charlie – there are relatively few bites that are actually good. So it’s obvious to say that a tick bite is bad and annoying, too – ticks are disgusting  and creepy and altogether rather spiteful, I’m not a fan.

They also carry disease – get bitten by a tick and you run the risk of catching all manner of bastard conditions, like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, or Human granulocytic anaplasmosis, whatever the hell that terrifying bunch of words means. But there’s a new disease on the block, and it’ll straight up ruin the rest of your life.

If you’re bitten by a Lone Star tick, which are currently buzzing about ruining people’s lives over in the US and Mexico, then you’ll get quite the life-changing side effect.

I’ll let Cosby Stone, an allergy and immunology fellow at Vanderbilt University, explain:

"You're walking through the woods, and that tick has had a meal of cow blood or mammal blood. The tick, carrying Alpha-Gal, bites you and activates your allergy immune system."

Aplha-gal is a sugar molecule, and once introduced into your body, causes Alpha-gal antibodies to be created, so it hard-wires your immune system to fight it in the future. The problem is, meat is full of Alpha-gal, which basically means that next time you wolf back a burger or a sausage, your immune system goes into overdrive. It makes you allergic to meat.

No more of this for you

Stone adds: "There's a time delay in the reaction. It [the Alpha-Gal] has to first travel through your gastrointestinal tract to be released. Hours later, patients wake up with hives, shortness of breath, vomiting, and diarrhea.

"Some patients have had to be given life support because their blood pressure is so low that they're in eminent danger of dying." 

It’s totally bullshit, basically, and you don’t want it. Also, there’s no cure. Also, you can’t ever eat a steak or jerk chicken or any delicious barbecued food ever again.

It’s rising, too – Stone says: "Five years ago, we probably had about 50 or so patients that had Alpha-Gal [syndrome]. Now we have about 200.”

So that’s cool. They’re multiplying. But you know what? Maybe it’s a good way to force yourself to become vegetarian.

“WANT TO LOSE WEIGHT FOR YOUR NEXT HOLIDAY?”

“ORDER A BOX OF TEN LONE STAR TICKS FOR $5 AND GET BITTEN BY THEM.”

“YOU’LL NEVER WANT A BURGER AGAIN!”

(Image: iStock)

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Gary Ogden

Shortlist writer and "the least woke person in the office", Gary Ogden, likes horror movies, Cheestrings, tapping his leg under the desk, "having a drink", PDAs, not having eczema anymore, hiding from responsibility, screaming into the mirror whenever he is alone, and assorted other things. Mainly the eczema thing though. @garyblogden

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