Rare red meat allergy coming from unlikely source spreads to Kansas City

Tick bite causes red meat allergy for some

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A rare allergy has spread to Kansas City, and it’s coming from an unexpected source: a tick bite.

Allergists said the allergy is especially hard to diagnose because it may take hours for a reaction to appear.

Jordan Simons originally thought she had been bitten by a mosquito after she was outdoors.

It wasn’t until the swelling in her foot got worse that she realized something was wrong.

“I didn't know what was happening. I just thought I ate something not right and I was just itching,” she said.

Turns out the bite came from a Lone Star tick. 

The tick is commonly known to live in southern states, but it’s slowly moving into areas like Kansas City.

Its bite can cause you to become allergic to red meat.

The tick bite can make you sensitive to the sugar in meats like beef, pork and lamb.

“I have a lot of patients who have this who are very meat eaters and are not very happy with me, but they know when they eat meat they will have the symptoms,” Dr. Selina Gierer, who helped diagnose Jordan, said.

She’s seeing more patients like Jordan, but she said the cure is simple: no more red meat.

For Jordan, that’s easier said than done.

“That’s what we eat mostly at my house, and it's hard to watch everybody else eat it and I can't eat any of it,” she said.

She hasn’t had any more swelling since giving up red meat.

“I’m so glad that I don't have to go to emergency rooms anymore because that was miserable and not fun,” she said.

Dr. Gierer said in some cases, patients stop having allergic reactions after just six months. In other cases, it can take up to five years before they can return to eating red meat.

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