One bite from this terrifying tick could turn you into a vegan!
If it takes a chomp out of you, that’s it. You’ll be eating kale for life…
People living in areas prone to tick infestations are being warned of a horrible side-effect to being bitten: developing a life-threatening allergy to meat. Really!
Once bitten and infected, sufferers of ‘tick-induced mammalian meat allergy’ will experience nausea and chronic stomach cramps for between two and 10 hours after eating red meat.
People with the allergy can tolerate poultry and seafood in small doses, but many sufferers have to to avoid delicious meat entirely. That means no bacon, no ham and and no prosciutto. Forever.
Cases of the allergy have been reported in Europe, Asia, Central America and Africa, but it is most prevalent – and on the rise – in parts of Australia and the United States where tick populations are increasing – in part due to climate change.
One Australian victim was diagnosed with mammalian meat allergy in 2010. Jana Pearce had been bitten by a newly hatched tick 10 days previously and had developed a “massive rash”. She now lives in Hobart, Tasmania, where there are fewer ticks: “I’m a tick refugee,” she told The Guardian.
“The hardest thing is all your social life is interrupted – you can’t go out to dinner for fear of the cross-contamination. It sort of spoils the whole experience of dining out,” she said. “You have to eat very clean and you have to learn to cook again, which is the hard part.”
Pearce isn’t alone. Sheryl van Nunen, a clinical immunology specialist at the Royal North Shore hospital in Sydney, told Guardian Australia she now diagnoses one to two patients every week, and that number could grow.
Looks like we’ll mostly be spending the rest of our lives avoiding these little bastards then!