My View From The Country

Bug Bites Can Turn You Vegetarian

Wait until PETA and HSUS hear about the tick bite that can transform a meat eater into a vegetarian.

Have you heard about the bug bite that can turn you into a vegetarian? That story made the front page of my browser this week, and my wife heard it as part of a newsbreak on her favorite Christian radio station.

It seems researchers believe that a large number of people who have developed allergic reactions to red meat acquired the allergy after being bitten by a tick. According to University of Virginia researchers, “Of the over 1,500 people who have now reported meat allergies to the researchers, at least 90% say they were bitten by ticks in the weeks preceding their allergic reaction.” (See the story here.)

The cases are located in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Allergy clusters have been reported in Pennsylvania and New York as well.

The researchers believe the Lone Star Tick is producing an immune response to alpha-gal in humans, which causes the allergic reaction to meat. The allergy presents itself 4-6 hours after consumption of beef, pork or lamb and the symptoms can vary from hives to anaphylactic shock. There’s speculation that this allergy could be caused by a new organism found in the saliva of these bugs. Researchers don’t have a lot of answers at this point, but it appears the allergy lasts 3-5 years and can be even more severe if the subject is bitten again.

I can just see the radical anti-meat advocates heading out to propagate or capture and release these ticks in hopes of furthering their agenda. I’ve been reading lately about the risks from bioterrorism. Thankfully, these activists aren’t typically the type to be burdened with science, let alone the ability to spend time in a lab, but it remains a scary thought that a tiny bite from a bug could turn one from being a meat lover to a vegetarian.

If nothing else I’m sure we’ll see advocacy to get that tick listed on the endangered species list so that there will be plenty of the species to bite meat-loving humans. Personally, I’d be all for a full-out eradication program – I’m talking about ticks, of course, not members of PETA or HSUS.

Discuss this Blog Entry 5

Dieter Harle (not verified)
on Jun 29, 2012

I like your humor on this one - though there are some serious points made: When are people going to think before they react?
Let's work on teaching - thinking - reasoning with multiple unbiased - yet factual - opinions.

Troy Muse (not verified)
on Jun 29, 2012

5 years ago this Sept., I was found to have become allergic to beef. One night after coming home from a prime rib dinner at a local steak house, I broke out in hives about 4 hrs later. Normally if I got hives, I could take benedryl and within minutes they would disappear. The next morning I had welps on the side of my head and across my rib cage and my feet were swollen too large to put on shoes. After recieving treatment, the next day I went to an allergists and blood work revealed that I was fatally allergic to beef. As a life long beef eater, this was life altering news. I not only raise cattle but at the time, I was the county cattlemens assoc. president. I had taken for granted how much I loved hamburgers, a good steak or any other meal prepared with beef. After 5 years with no beef, I still have times where I think hard about just lapsing once but I have been warned by my doctor that it is too risky to ever let my guard down. Don't think for a minute that I can't remember how good beef tasted and veggie burgers don't compare. I have picked ticks off all my life so I cannot verify if this was caused by a bite but the evidence seems plausible. I wouldn't wish this allergy on anyone, it is not nearly as horrible as cancer and such, but it is a serious issue.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jun 29, 2012

I feel for you, Troy. I can't imagine never being able to again savor a juicy steak. You're paying on Earth any penance you might owe the Almighty in the afterlife. Good luck to you.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jun 29, 2012

People like you make me sick. Tricking people to buy some medication for a silly thing as BUGS can make you alergic to meat. I was trying to find an identification to my bites on my arm(size of a quarter), and the bite on the side of my foot(size of a nickel). I was hoping to find identification but sadly not. Hope your happy.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jul 4, 2012

whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis? Where do you see any medication being sold? If you got unidentified bites, go see your doctor; don't depend on the Internet, dude.

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As a fulltime rancher, opinion contribur Troy Marshall brings a unique perspective on how consumer and political trends affect livestock production.

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Troy Marshall

Troy Marshall is a multi-generational rancher who grew up in Wheatland, WY, and obtained an Equine Science/Animal Science degree from Colorado State University where he competed on both the livestock...

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