Lone Star Tick

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The Lone Star Tick is indigenous to much of the eastern United States. It hasn't been considered a Wisconsin resident, but a UW-Madison entomology professor says it has appeared in at least half a dozen Wisconsin counties.

Les Waters says, while it sounds crazy, after a lifetime of backyard barbecques and game hunting he now has a dangerous allergy - to red-meat.

Waters says, "It's like full out scary - it's like uour throat swells up, you can't breathe, your blood pressure drops off, you black out, and then you have to hit it with an Epi-pen."

He says, oddly enough it started after a hunting trip in Quebec, five years ago. Since then, he can't eat burgers, hot dogs, bacon or any game meat.

Waters says, "One time I had venison loin chops and it was like a disaster."

Researchers say Waters was likely bit by the Lone Star Tick. Distinguishable by a tiny white dot on it's back.

Waters says, "This is fairly unusual - one of those quirky aspects of nature."

Researchers say - it's not entirely clear how a tick bite can make someone allergic to red meat? But it helps to remember an allergic reaction is your immune system trying to fight off something that's not really dangerous.

Waters says, "One of the proteins in its saliva looks to our body like something that's present in red meat. So you develop antibodies to that tick's saliva."

Then, depending on your sensitivity - whenever that protein shows up again - those antibodies attack. Only this reaction usually happens several hours later - unlike peanut and other food allergies that happen immediately.

Waters says, "I don't want people to over-react because this is probably a problem in the southeast U.S, it isn't in Canada very often at this point."

Experts say ticks are slowly moving north due to climate change. They also can carry Lyme disease. Experts say the best way to avoid tick related diseases? Cover up, use bug spray with deet and remember to check your skin.


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