The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is issuing a warning about a potentially severe health problem called alpha-gal syndrome (AGS). It is estimated that up to 450,000 people may be affected by this tick-borne meat allergy.

AGS is caused by a sugar molecule called alpha-gal, which is found in most mammals, but not in fish, reptiles, birds, or humans. Red meat and products made from mammals, such as gelatin and cow’s milk, can contain alpha-gal.

Symptoms of AGS include hives, itching, nausea, heartburn, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, drop in blood pressure, swelling of the lips or throat, dizziness, faintness, and severe stomach pain. These symptoms typically occur within two to six hours after consuming meat or products containing alpha-gal.

The Lone Star tick is strongly associated with AGS. It is a very aggressive tick that is primarily found in the eastern, southeastern, and south-central United States. While evidence suggests that AGS is primarily caused by the bite of the Lone Star tick, other tick species have also been linked to the development of AGS in other countries.

In addition to AGS, the Lone Star tick can transmit other diseases such as Bourbon virus, ehrlichiosis, Heartland virus, tularemia, and STARI.

Avoiding tick bites is crucial in preventing AGS and other tick-borne illnesses. If you suspect you may have AGS, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider. Treatment typically involves avoiding foods with alpha-gal and managing symptoms with medication.

To prevent allergic reactions, individuals with AGS should avoid foods and products that contain alpha-gal. Other medical products derived from animals, such as heart valves and certain medications, may also contain alpha-gal.

Remember, prevention is key when it comes to AGS. Stay vigilant and protect yourself from tick bites to keep this syndrome at bay.

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