Alpha-gal is an allergy to ALL mammal meat: beef, pork, lamb, venison, goat, and bison. It occurs when certain people are bitten by a tick. The saliva of the tick causes the body to generate an antibody against a SUGAR molecule in all red meat. This is significant because it is different from people who are allergic to peanuts or shellfish, etc. They are allergic to a PROTEIN in a particular food. When you are allergic to a protein in a food, your reaction is immediate. When you are allergic to a SUGAR, your body has to digest the food and break it down to a SUGAR before you begin to react. This is a big reason why it takes people so long to figure out what is wrong. Since it takes anywhere between 3-6 hours to digest your food, you don’t think your allergic reaction could be from food because your symptoms are so distant from the last time you had something to eat. The most common symptoms are hives, itching, and in severe cases anaphylaxis. The only treatment at this time is to completely avoid red meat. It is believed that over time and being free from any further tick bites, your alpha-gal levels may decrease. It is recommended that you be retested to see if the alpha-gal antibody level has decreased.
The University of Virginia is researching the alpha-gal meat allergy. See the blog below for more information:
If you live in the Lynchburg, Virginia area and believe you may have the alpha-gal allergy, I would recommend Dr. Charles Lane at Allergy Partners of Lynchburg: