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Woman Develops Severe Meat Allergy After Tick Bite

A Rogers woman is sharing her tick bite experience in hopes of encouraging others to take precautions when outdoors....

Posted: May 3, 2018 6:55 AM
Updated: May 3, 2018 6:55 AM

A Rogers woman is sharing her tick bite experience in hopes of encouraging others to take precautions when outdoors.

Jennifer Burton was diagnosed with Alpha Gal Syndrome in April 2017.

For six months, she had been experiencing sickness, but didn't know what was causing it.

"Gastrointestinal issues, rashes, hives, and eventually four anaphylaxis episodes," Burton recalled. "The last one I nearly died."

"My husband said 'I'm not going to watch you die. I don't care how long it takes for the doctors to figure this out, but they've got to figure out what this is'," she said.

A blood test, taken during a trip to the doctor revealed she was allergic to beef.

An allergist later determined she in fact had Alpha Gal Syndrome, which has been linked to the bite of a Lone Star Tick.

Alpha Gal Syndrome, or AGS, is a severe allergy to mammal products, including meat. Reactions are not immediate, and often surface several hours after consumption.

More than one year later, Burton continues to avoid all mammalian products, which can still be a chore.

"That includes our cosmetics, that includes our shampoos, conditioners, our vitamin supplements, our medications," Burton said.

Research on AGS only dates back to the year 2000, with many factors relating to the allergy still unknown.

Burton has created a group called Alpha Gal Encouragers in Northwest Arkansas to help others like herself.

Burton warns people to take precautions, because Alpha Gal, or other tick-borne diseases like Lyme Disease have no cure, but they can be prevented.

On Monday (May 1), The Centers for Disease Control issued a report claiming new data has shown the number of illnesses caused by mosquito, tick, and flea bites have tripled in the United States over the last 13 years.

The CDC encourages people to take precautions when outdoors.

Judge Vanhorn, a University of Arkansas freshman, makes preparations when hitting the trails. He said so far this spring, he hasn't come across any ticks, but anticipates that will be short lived.

"Definitely once all the undergrowth grows in, it gets real bad, because they can just grab you off the side of the trail," Vanhorn said. "But right now it's still a little bit sparse, but it definitely will get pretty bad here in a couple of weeks probably."

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