Entries in Tick (2)


Allergic to Meat: Tiny Tick May Be Spreading Vegetarianism

iStockphoto/Thinkstock (file photo)(NEW YORK) -- A tiny tick might be to blame for a rash of meat allergies in central and southern regions of the U.S.

A bite from the lone star tick, so-called for the white spot on its back, looks innocent enough.  But researchers say saliva that sneaks into the wound might trigger a reaction to meat agonizing enough to convert lifelong carnivores into vegetarians.

"People will eat beef and then anywhere from three to six hours later start having a reaction; anything from hives to full-blown anaphylactic shock," said Dr. Scott Commins, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.  "Most people want to avoid having the reaction, so they try to stay away from the food that triggers it."

Cases of the bizarre allergy are cropping up in areas ripe with lone star ticks, according to research presented Friday at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology annual meeting in Anaheim, Calif.  But whether the bugs cause meat allergies remains unclear.

"It's hard to prove," said Commins.  "We're still searching for the mechanism."

Allergies are immune reactions to foreign substances, from pet hair to peanuts.  As antibodies attack the substance that caused the reaction, they trigger the release of histamine, a chemical that causes hives and, in severe cases, life-threatening anaphylaxis.

Commins said blood levels of antibodies for alpha-gal, a sugar found in beef, lamb and pork, rise after a single bite from the lone star tick.  He said he hopes experiments that combine tiny samples of tick saliva with the invisible antibodies will prove the two are directly connected.

"It's complicated, no doubt," said Commins.  "But we think it's something in the saliva."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Lyme Disease to Blame for Woman's Erratic Behavior at NYC Hotel? YORK) -- The woman who reportedly wandered around the lobby of New York's famous Waldorf-Astoria hotel this past weekend wearing her panties over her pants, muttering to herself and carrying a gun has prompted medical experts to revisit the question of whether Lyme disease can have psychiatric manifestations.

After police charged Marilyn Michose, of Danbury, Connecticut, with fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, the 46-year-old's mother told newspapers that her daughter has Lyme disease and the medication she takes makes her "manic."

It was unclear whether Michose's mother was referring to medication for Lyme disease or for some other condition.  Michose was taken to a hospital for psychiatric evaluation after the incident.

Lyme disease is caused by the bite of an infected deer tick.  It commonly causes a skin rash, fever, headache and fatigue.  Whether the disease can have psychiatric manifestations has long been a controversy in the medical community.

While they can only speculate without knowing more about Michose's case, some experts believe a percentage of patients with Lyme disease go on to develop serious problems that might affect the brain, heart, eyes and other organs.

Skeptical experts, on the other hand, say there's little scientific evidence to back up the notion that long-term psychiatric problems can develop.  They say chronic Lyme disease, which can resist treatment and cause a litany of problems for many years, simply doesn't exist.

"With Lyme disease, you can develop some significant psychiatric problems," said Dr. Brian Fallon, director of Columbia University Medical Center's Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center in New York.  "Lyme disease is an infection that can spread throughout the body and when it spreads to the central nervous system, it can cause a wide variety of manifestations, such as memory problems, verbal fluency problems and sometimes in the more acute phases of brain infection, it can cause encephalitis, which is characterized by severe confusion or personality changes."

Fallon went on to say that about 15 percent of patients infected by Lyme disease who are not treated will develop neurologic problems.  Symptoms usually appear in the first few weeks after the tick bite.  Such problems, however, tend to go away after treatment but Fallon said sometimes, people get worse before they get better.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio