Review Article

Red Meat Allergies after Lone Star Tick (Amblyomma americanum) Bites

Authors: James H. Diaz, MD, DrPH


Red meat allergies have followed tick bites on every continent except Antarctica. The sensitizing antigen is galactose-α-1,3-galactose (α-gal), an oligosaccharide constituent of nonprimate blood and meat, acquired by ticks during animal bloodfeeding. Because red meat allergy after tick bites is a worldwide phenomenon, the objectives of this review were to describe the global epidemiology of red meat allergy after tick bites and its immunological mechanisms; to identify the human risk factors for red meat allergy after tick bites; to identify the most common tick vectors of red meat allergy worldwide; to describe the clinical manifestations, diagnostic confirmation, and management of patients with red meat allergy after tick bites; and to recommend strategies for the prevention of tick bites. To meet these objectives, Internet search engines were queried with keywords to select scientific articles for review. The keywords included ticks, tick bites, allergy, anaphylaxis, and meat allergy. The study period was defined as 1980–2019. The major risk factors for red meat allergy after tick bites included male sex, non-B blood type, systemic mastocytosis, a bioprosthetic (bovine or porcine) heart valve, and preexisting allergies to gelatin or animal dander. Following confirmation by challenge testing, patients with red meat allergies should avoid red meats, foods containing gelatin, and intravenous immunotherapy with monoclonal antibodies such as cetuximab and infliximab produced in SP2/0 mouse cell lines. Red meat allergy after tick bites represents an emerging threat from tick bites in addition to infectious diseases.

Posted in: Allergy and Immunology3

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