Ticks are arthropods, which means they contain skeletons on the outside of their bodies, rather than their insides. Despite their having eight legs, they are not spiders but are part of a subgroup of species known as mites. Although ticks are associated with Lyme disease or the Rocky Mountain spotted fever, one group of ticks, known as the Lone Star tick is known for creating an aversion towards red meat. Although this may be unheard of when it comes to bites from parasitic beings, this condition may be more common than you think.

What Is The Lone Star Tick?

Lone Star tick

Lone Star ticks live predominantly in the Southeastern, Midwestern, and Eastern regions of the United States and Mexico. They are known for their spindly brown leg with a white spot on their backs. Like most ticks, Lone Star ticks thrive in humid climates, with low-lying vegetation that includes trees, shrubs, bushes, and piles of leaves, which allows them to hide from the heat of the sun and survive off the humidity and stay moist. The Lone Star tick is also a vector to numerous diseases and can render you a meatless eater once you ever become bitten by one.

Allergy Symptoms And Alpha-Gal

A tick bite

Ticks prefer warm and moist skin and once it attaches itself to one point of the body, it will typically move around to another area. Lone Star ticks have an elongated mouth which enables it to attach itself to the skin so that it can suck out blood. Once it becomes engorged with blood, it tends to fall off. Not everyone is allergic to ticks, therefore you may notice no symptoms at the onset, however, if one bites you some allergic reactions may include:

  • Burning
  • Pain and swelling
  • Blisters
  • Breathing Difficulty
  • A rash

Some ticks may even carry diseases since they usually go from human-to-human, so it is important to immediately seek treatment if you experience one or more adverse symptoms. Sometimes after being bitten, you may not experience symptoms right away, but after about 10 days you may feel the following manifestations of certain ailments, which may comprise:

  • Full body rash
  • Aches and pain
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Joint pain
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes
  • Stiffness of the neck

Not all ticks create symptoms at all. However, studies indicate that the Lone Star tick carries a strain of Alpha-gal or galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose, found in the cell membranes of most mammals. Alpha-gal is also reported to play a role in the digestion of meat, a condition that is caused by being bitten by Lone Star ticks that carry the strain that came from taking blood from a cow or other animal. Studies also report that due to warmer weather conditions, tick-borne illnesses are increasing. Once you are bitten by a tick that has also feasted on animals that carry Alpha-gal, your body builds up antibodies that fight the sugar molecules of Alpha-gal, thus making you allergic to red meat and other types of meat that contain the chemical. In many cases, Alpha-gal goes undetected until symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea occur, and the more you are bitten, the more severe your allergies become.

Treatment And Prevention

Man walking in the woods

The best way to stop a tick bite is to prevent it all together. Once you've been bitten by a tick, it's important to alleviate the problem as soon as possible. Use caution whenever you are outdoors, especially if you walk or live within a wooded area. Ticks tend to hide in the unlikeliest of places, so chances are you may come in contact with one or more and may not even realize it until it is too late. One of the best methods of prevention is to wear protective clothing in the form of long sleeves, pants, socks, and gloves. By doing so, you will prevent any contact between you and the tick, thus lowering your chances of becoming bitten. Other methods of protection include:

  • Using a tick repellent with at least 20% DEET
  • Walking along the center of a trail
  • Taking a shower at least two hours after being outdoors
  • Examining skin after outdoor exposure-behind ears, under arms, in hair, and behind the knees
  • Treating clothing with permethrin

If a Lone Star tick has already penetrated your skin, you may try removal with tweezers or with an instrument that is created for tick removal. With a straight movement and without twisting or bending the tick, try to grasp as close to the skin as possible and attempt to pull the tick out. Check to see if any parts are remaining and then wash your skin with warm soap and water.

Once you've removed the tick, place it in rubbing alcohol to make sure that it is dead. It is also a good idea to visit your health practitioner for additional treatment if necessary to prevent any serious illnesses that could occur as well as any other difficulties that could occur.

Ticks can be found in many locations that are humid and full of shrubbery. If you live in areas such as these, it's important to utilize caution whenever possible when outdoors. Not only can prevention save you from any dietary and physical illnesses caused by the Lone Star tick and many others, it may also save your life.

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