The Lone Star Tick: What A Prick!

In our industry, it’s tough to think of something worse than finding out you’ve developed a sudden allergy to all red meat and dairy! Seriously, what’s Béarnaise without a filet, or a cappuccino without foam, or BBQ without brisket? Nature lovers beware though, this could actually happen to you if you’re bit by the dreaded Lone Star Tick!

Don’t get pricked by the Lone Star Tick, this evil creature can rob you of the pleasures of steaks, bacon, gelato and cheese! (Image Wikipedia)

The Lone Star Tick is found along the East Coast and in the South, but the name comes from the star-shaped spot on its back. This little demon lives in wooded, grassy areas and attaches to its host (human or animal) as it brushes by, biting and burrowing into the skin and feasting on its blood. If it goes unnoticed, this tick can stay gorging on you for up to seven days, all the while passing along this strange food allergy to alpha gal, which is found in beef, lamb, venison and pork and sometimes even dairy.

The allergy itself is aggressive and could cause a rash, hives, and trouble breathing, having the potential to be temporary or sometimes permanent. As told in this article by CBS News, private chef Matt Beres discovered his allergy after waking up in the middle of the night covered in hives after eating a hamburger at a friend’s place the night before. For obvious reasons, contracting this red meat allergy has made his line of work much more difficult. “It’s an incredible challenge,” he told CBS News. “It’s the worst. Thank God I love to watch people eat and watch their faces light up, so that’s the joy I get out of it.”

What’s even scarier is that, according to a later article by CBS News last month, because of rising temperatures, more than 5,000 cases have been reported, up by 3,500 from 2 years ago. What really got our attention is that the NY Daily News recently reported hundreds of cases currently being treated in Long Island, our close neighbor.

At CulEpi, we would rather not be forced into near veganism and are taking no risks with this one, so we’ll make sure to follow the CDC’s recommendations to prevent tick bites which include:

  • Avoiding areas where ticks are found which include grassy, brushy areas off of walking paths
  • Treating your clothing with products containing permethrin before going outdoors and use EPA-registered insect repellent
  • Checking your clothing and body when returning indoors and showering right away
  • Tossing clothing into a dryer for at least 10 mins as soon as you get home
  • Don’t forget to check your pets and gear as well!

This may seem like extreme measures to take, but it’s not as extreme as not being able to eat red meat or ice cream ever again!

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