CDC: Suffolk is hotspot for tick-borne illness that can make people allergic to red meat
Suffolk County is a hotspot for a tick-borne illness that could make some people allergic to red meat, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
Pediatric infectious disease expert Dr. Andrew Handel, of Stony Brook Children's Hospital, says a lone star tick's bite can cause an allergy to red meat.
He says those are the most common ticks on Long Island by far, accounting for 75% of the tick population.
Doctors at Stony Brook say they have seen an increase in children being diagnosed with Alpha-gal Syndrome or AGS. It is caused by the sugar in lone star tick saliva, which is the same sugar found in red meat.
Dr. Handel says there are signs that parents should be on the lookout for.
"A child will eat a hot dog or a hamburger and wake up in the middle of the night with hives or vomiting, diarrhea…It's actually more common in adults," Handel says. "They'll come to their pediatrician or go the emergency department to be evaluated and that's how the diagnosis gets made."
Doctors say not everyone bitten by a lone star tick will develop the allergy.
Anyone who has been bitten by a tick can bring it to a doctor or check online with the CDC to see if it is a lone star tick.