In Long Island (and increasingly across other parts of the United States), Americans are becoming afflicted by a strange and sudden allergy. Over the last couple of years, doctors have reported steady rises in people developing symptoms of severe allergic reaction soon after eating burgers, steak, sausages or any other kind of red meat. The Lone Star Tick is to blame.
Named in homage to the Texan traditional cuisine (meat, meat and more meat), this tiny insect has been biting people all across Long Island and forcing them to give up their barbecues for good.
It seems that the tick releases a specific sugar into the human bloodstream when it bites, a sugar that our bodies are not used to. It is also found in meat but is ignored by the immune system and broken down during digestion. When the tick bites, however, the victim’s body responds to the alien sugar by producing anti-bodies against it.
This means that the next time the person in question consumes meat, those very same anti-bodies recognise the sugar and react as though it were an allergic substance.
Hundreds of people have been affected by this bizarre condition, many of them rushed to the emergency room with breathing-difficulties, severe rashes and other symptoms. All from eating a simple hamburger.
Dr. Scott Commins of The University of Virginia was the first to link the mystery allergy to the tick bites, and is now seeing three new cases a week.
The phenomenon has also been recorded in Europe as well as Australia and Japan. Could this be the newest fad in the uber-diet saga?