It's well known that ticks are dangerous carriers of many harmful diseases, which makes tick control throughout the country an ever-present focus. Now, tick control may have an even higher incentive for you. An allergy of a sugar, alpha-gal, commonly found in non-primate mammals like cows, pigs and goats, has been linked to tick bites, reported MedPage Today. Specifically, the lone star tick has been found to be a sensitization culprit, a pest common to the southeast United States, where many of the alpha-gal allergy patients have been found.
In a Stockholm allergy clinic, questionnaires were given to patients with an alpha-gal allergy. It was found that all of the patients had been bitten by ticks – some more than 10 times.
"We have recently identified alpha-gal in the gastrointestinal tract of the European tick Ixodes ricinus, which provides further evidence of the tick as an initiator of red meat allergy," said Marriane van Hage, M.D., Ph.D., from the Karolinska Institutet and University Hospital in Stockholm.
The symptoms of this red meat allergy can often be severe – 45 percent of the patients examined at the Stockholm allergy clinic had experienced anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction, from red meat. All the patients were allergic to pork, beef and other alpha-gal sources.
How to practice safe tick control
It wasn't until a few years ago that some researchers established that a severe reaction to a tick bite may also be connected with allergic reactions to red meat. However, tick control has always been necessary, even without this specific knowledge, due to other tick-borne illnesses the pests can inflict upon hosts.
Taking proper precautions against the aggravating arachnids is necessary to keep yourself and your pets safe. On your pets, check their skin and fur for ticks after they've been in an area you suspect could be home to ticks. A fine-toothed comb is perfect for this job, and can also help you discover if your pets have any fleas on them.
There are also products for your pets that are designed to repel or kill fleas. For example, the Hartz® UltraGuard Plus® Flea & Tick Collar for Cats and Kittens kills and repels both fleas and ticks for up to seven months. This repelling factor can ensure that your pets don't carry a tick into your home to prey on you and your family.
This content is provided by the flea treatment experts at Hartz. We offer flea sprays, shampoos and drops to keep your pets safe inside and outside your home.