Wednesday 5 July 2017

Tick Bite = Forced Veganism?

What if I told you that you couldn’t eat your favorite beef rendang during Hari Raya? From extravagant medium rare steaks and even a simple cheeseburger. All in reach definitely but for the victims or the Lone Star Tick…they are playing a game of Russian roulette with each bite that just might be their last.

The Lone Star tick
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Throughout history, ticks have always been the natural enemy of all blood bags both cold and warm blooded ones. Ticks are a parasitic vector for many diseases such as Lyme disease, spotted fever, tick paralysis and now an allergy inducer towards red meat or more specifically: the Alpha-gal sugar compound found within.

A man suffering from Alpha-Gal allergy
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Spotted fever victim
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Don’t let its women empowering worthy name of Alpha-Gal to fool you though, according to Vanderbilt University Medical Center: the allergy can cause swelling, hives, breathing problems, a drop in blood pressure or even anaphylactic shock after eating red meat or dairy.  This can be rather troublesome and dangerous because the symptoms do not appear immediately but rather within 8 hours or so.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Although there is no cure, medication such as epinephrine which is a first line treatment for anaphylaxis shock that has saved many from being rushed to the ER or worst, an excruciating death. Now the question on everybody’s mind, how exactly does a small tick bite cause an allergic reaction towards red meat?

Epinephrine pen
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Inside the saliva of ticks contains Alpha-gal which once transferred to a human body, our immune system will identify them as harmful external substances and thus create antibodies to help protect the system. Unknowingly causing a bigger problem for us in the long run.

To all the vegetarians out there who think you're fine just because you don't worship meat like the rest of us, think again! Your everyday products could be a possible seizure waiting to happen if they contain ingredients such as dairy, animal fats and gelatin. In other words, chocolate, ice cream, marshmallows, cheeses and even several medicines such as tetanus and even gelatin based tablets will cause an allergic reaction.

Goodbye hot cocoa cups with marshmallows
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

This strange problem was discovered several years ago in the East Coast of the United States which has been rapidly spreading alongside the increasing number of unwilling converted vegetarians. These pesky little creatures thrive in grassy and humid areas, something where we in Malaysia are known for. Although ticks can’t swim, all it takes is a single ‘accident’ to change our entire way of life. #TickAboutIt


Glossary of terms
Russian Roulette: The practice of loading a bullet into one chamber of a revolver, spinning the cylinder, and then pulling the trigger while pointing the gun at one's own head.

Vector: An organism an organism, typically a biting insect or tick, that transmits a disease or parasite from one animal or plant to another.

East Coast: The eastern seaboard of the US, especially the narrow corridor from Boston to Washington, DC.


Shared by David Mok
Guest Blogger

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