The Bite Of The Lone Star Tick Can Give The Victim Allergies To?
Answer: Red Meat
When it comes to good PR, the entire tick family can’t catch a break. Not only are all ticks parasitic, but they can also serve as vectors for disease. While the best known tick-borne illness is Lyme Disease (an infectious disease caused by bacteria carried by numerous tick species), there’s also a really unpleasant side effect from the bite of the, rather ironically named, lone star tick.
When most people think of the phrase “lone star”, they probably think of Texas, a state whose nickname is “The Lone Star State” (because of it’s red, white, and blue flag with a single star). The lone star tick is named such because the pattern on its body looks like a single star. The irony comes into play when you consider that people associate Texas, the lone star state, with beef because of its current and historical ties with the cattle industry, but a bite from a lone star tick can induce an allergy to red meat.
Although the effect of the bite and the ensuing development of the allergy is still under study, the bite appears to give the victim an allergy to Galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose, a carbohydrate found in the cell membranes of non-primate mammals. You read that last bit correctly, the lone star tick’s bite will make you allergic to everything from hamburgers to venison steaks to rabbit sausage, but you’ll be more than safe to eat a chimp or your neighbor.
Image courtesy of the CDC.