Tick bite turns people into involuntary vegetarians

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It seems that there is a decline in meat eaters throughout the nation, at least red meat consumers. But it's not out of compassion for animals or for nurturing their own health by keeping out secondhand antibiotics, hormones injected into cattle, or factory farm meat from GMO mush feed cattle with their attendant toxic herbicides and pesticides.

Of course, some meat eaters are wise enough to avoid factory farm products and go with free-range grass-fed cattle that are not injected with antibiotics and hormones. But the ranks are thinning slightly among both types of meat eaters because of tick bites.

It seems that a tick called the lone star tick -- because it supposedly originated, ironically, from the beef-producing state of Texas -- creates an extreme allergy to meat, especially red meat, that sometimes forces folks into hospital emergency rooms. But it doesn't cause Lyme disease.

Are lone star ticks protecting cattle from gruesome deaths after terrible living conditions?

Lone star ticks and deer ticks are the two basic types of ugly parasitic insects discussed here that latch onto mammalian bodies and get fat, literally, on mammalian blood. Garlic, silver bullets and crosses don't seem to affect them, but they do mostly stay out of direct sunlight.

The horrible health effects of Lyme disease (LD)are apparently the exclusive domain of deer ticks in the East, while on the other side of the Rockies a version of that same deer tick called the Western black-legged tick does its job of infecting animals and humans with the LD spirochete bacterium (spy-ro-keet), Borrelia burgdorferi.

The lone star tick has migrated through the East, North and South, as well as the Midwest, to converteaters into vegetarians. At first, it was blamed for spreading Lyme disease during the original Lyme, Connecticut, outbreak in the 1980s. But recent research has shown that its saliva destroys Borrelia burgdorferi, the pathogen that is cited as the cause of LD.

The lone star ticks, with white markings on their backs, can sometimes cause what seems to be a milder reaction of LD, but it's not Lyme . It's called southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI). Occasionally, the rash is accompanied by fever, headache, fatigue and muscle pains, which are easily resolved with one round of doxycycline, an oral antibiotic.

But thefrom lone star ticks wasn't realized until 2011, when Dr. Scott Commins and Dr. Thomas Platts-Mills published the first paper linking rising meat allergies to the lone star tick. One of their first cases involved a bow hunter who had eaten meat all of his life, then he suddenly had a rash of several ER visits after eating meat.

Then, other outdoor0typestarted coming in with similar allergic reactions. "It seemed something geographical. We thought at first it might be a squirrel parasite," Dr. Commins explained. "It took us a while to sort of put everything together."

Reporting from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Dr. Commins said, "I see two to three new cases every week."

Dr. Erin McGintee, an allergy specialist on eastern Long Island, has seen so many tick-induced meat allergies that she's created a database to help overall research on the mighty lone star tick.

"It is bizarre," she exclaimed. "'It goes against almost anything I've ever learned as an allergist,'" she said, as reported by The Associated Press, "because the symptoms can occur as long as eight hours after eating meat, rather than immediately, and the culprit is a sugar [from the tick] -- a type of carbohydrate -- whereas most food allergies are caused by proteins."

And those symptoms can be very intense: extreme itching and burning skin sensations with hives that completely puff up one's face, shutting one's eyelids and constricting the throat and trachea (windpipe) to the point of not being able to speak or breathe.

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