Tick-Borne Condition Alpha-Gal: Info on It & for Those with Alpha-Gal

Lone Star Ticks. Photo Credit: James Occi, (PhD cand.) LDA Scientific & Professional Advisory Board

Alpha-gal is a sugar molecule found in most mammals (not people, apes, monkeys) and in products made from mammals including medications, vaccines, cosmetics, gelatin and milk products. It is not normally found in fish, reptiles or birds. Alpha gal is also found in some types of ticks. Click here for CDC website on Alpha-gal

What is known is that Alpha-gal allergy is an allergy to that alpha-gal molecule and it now appears to be associated with the bite of lone star ticks in the US. Other ticks may be involved, but the science is not yet settled in this newly emerging area.  Alpha-gal is also found in other countries associated with the bite of different ticks.

Symptoms can include: Rash, Hives, Difficulty breathing, Drop in blood pressure, Dizziness or faintness, Nausea or vomiting, and Severe stomach pain, which commonly appear 3-6 hours after eating meat (e.g., beef, lamb, pork, venison, and rabbit) or exposure to products containing alpha-gal. They may not occur after every exposure and can vary with individuals.  

CDC: Alpha-gal allergies can be severe, and even life-threatening. See a healthcare provider immediately if you are concerned about a severe allergic reaction.

Diagnosis can be made by an allergist, or other healthcare provider, through detailed patient history, physical examination, and a blood test for specific antibodies, IgE, to alpha-gal.

Patients with Alpha-gal Syndrome: There is a non-profit devoted to the identification, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of tick-borne diseases, including alpha-gal, and other lesser known diseases.  They are conducting a research study survey of people with Alpha-gal. If you are interested in more information on it: See Alpha-gal on the TBC United website  By clicking the link, you will have left the LDA website. The link is provided for you as a service. The LDA does not have a position on the information provided or on the study.

For more information on research on alpha-gal go to https://www.med.unc.edu/medicine/news/chairs-corner/podcast/alpha-gal/


Alpha-gal/Meat Allergy


Meat allergy caused by the bite of the lone star tick, Amblyomma americanum.  

The tick’s saliva triggers immune response to a carbohydrate, alpha-gal, found in red meat. Although eating red meat is the most common allergic trigger to alpha-gal, ingredients found in everyday products such as dairy, gelatin, soap, cosmetics, lotions, household products, and medications can also cause an allergic reaction.*

Symptoms: Can develop 3-4 hours after exposure and include upset stomach, headaches, hives, rashes, swelling, shortness of breath, anaphylaxis.

* The Tick-Borne Conditions United, www.tbcunited.org website can provide additional information for you about alpha-gal.  NOTE: If you click on the link, you will have left the www.LymeDiseaseAssociation.org  website. The information presented there is that of the Tick-Borne Conditions United.

¬©LDA.  2015.  This web site provides practical and useful information on the subject matters covered. It is distributed with the understanding that LDA is not engaged in rendering medical or other professional services. Seek professional services if necessary.