Doctors: Red meat allergies linked to East End tick bites

Posted: Updated:
SOUTHAMPTON -

Doctors are seeing a spike in red meat allergies linked to tick bites on the East End.

A bite from a lone star tick gives the victim a severe allergic reaction to beef, pork or venison. Doctors say there is no cure.

Rebecca Ferguson, of Moriches, was bitten by a lone star tick two years ago and had to be rushed to the hospital a few hours after eating a cheeseburger.

"My throat started closing and that's when…everything was just getting a little blurry," says Ferguson. 

Doctors say with some patience over time, the allergic reactions can subside.

"We do know it can go away if you can avoid further lone star ticks," says Dr. Erin McGintee. 

After two years, Ferguson is getting better and her doctor says she can eat beef or pork again in small amounts. 

The tick is characterized by a white spot on its back and carries the alpha-gal meat allergy. Southampton Hospital has seen over 370 cases since 2010. They have started a tick resource center where residents can find information about treatment and ask questions. 

Doctors say using bug spray, wearing long clothes or avoiding wooded areas altogether can help prevent tick bites.
 

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