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New tick in MI can cause meat allergy

Frank Turner

Saginaw, MI -- A new species of ticks has made an appearance in Michigan.

"They are dangerous," said Danielle Jackson, veterinary assistant. "I wouldn't say that they're life-threatening to you per se, they could be."

Jackson is talking about the dreaded lone star tick. It has turned up in Michigan on dogs, cats and people.

"It's a bug. It can be anywhere. Yes, they're more commonly found in the woods, but they can be in the grass, in your backyard," jackson said.

Exposure to these bugs can carry unpleasant consequences, like Lyme disease. Tick exposure can also lead to muscle and joint pain, and kidney failure.

In addition to those, a very specific food allergy has been associated with lone star exposure.

It can cause a sudden and even life-threatening reaction to eating meat.

When the tick bites a deer it ingests a carbohydrate called alpha gal, also found in certain meats and dairy. When alpha gal is transmitted to humans some develop an allergic reaction to those foods.

Ticks like this are always looking for an opportunity to eat and they can live for two years without feeding.

WNEM

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