The meat-allergy-causing lone-star tick in D.C., explained
Let’s talk about that tick that could cause an extreme allergic reaction to red meat. Yes, the one the Washington Post warned is in D.C.
Why it matters: Thanks to climate change, the lone star tick — known for its white dot on females’ backs — has spread to our region from southern states.
- And yes, their bites can make you allergic to alpha-gal, a sugar molecule found in red meat.
So, should you be freaked out? We asked Floyd Shockley, collections manager of entomology at the Natural History Museum.
- The short answer: Probably not. An allergic reaction is rare, he says.
- “Lots of people get bitten by the lone star tick and it has no impact at all,” Shockley says.
But FYI for those who aren't so lucky: The allergy often doesn't manifest until well after the bite.
A special heads-up for Marylanders: The tick is widespread across the state’s woodlands, the health department tells Axios.
The bottom line: Be vigilant of ticks, Shockley says, particularly since there are several species in our region. And do all the usual things to tick off ticks.
- Use insect repellent in wooded areas. Check pets after they’ve been outdoors. Remove ticks, stat.
The season for adult ticks can range from April to late August.
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