Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What are alpha-gal antibodies, and why did I get tested for them?

Here are a couple of articles on some research that my friend Gina sent to me that matches closely the allergy symptoms that I was having back in 2004:

1. The mystery of the tick and the allergy

2. Man's Sudden Food Allergy Was a Medical Mystery for Months

Basically, researchers have been looking at people with delayed-onset anaphylaxis after eating certain types of meat, and have managed to link their symptoms back to tick bites.  And that does fit with my experience, as I was doing a lot more hiking back in the days when I had my allergies, and frequently had ticks. Something in the tick bite caused people to become allergic to galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose (a.k.a. alpha-gal).

Hence the testing for alpha-gal antibodies.

Update (6-20-12): Good Morning America has a story that pins this specifically on the Lone Star Tick.


jenniferhawke said...

wow - that's crazy!

Gina said...

So how are you able to eat meat now? I'm not able to go near it.

Mike said...

I seem to be doing okay. The stick tests from my allergist says no allergies anymore except for dust, and the anti-body test was negative. And I've had pork once and beef 5-6 times in the last 2 weeks, and apart from anxiety-induced itching, I seem to be fine.

(but don't you hate those phantom itches once you've had anaphylaxis?)

Gina said...

Yay for you! Jarrett contacted the researcher, and he said if you haven't had meat in a long time, then you'll be ok for a while until it builds up again in your system. So be careful! You're certainly braver than I am. We now live in tickland again, so I'm sure my kids will have the allergy too once they've been tickified.

Mike said...

I never had a problem until I was an adult, and had tick bites all the time. So maybe it takes time to manifest? No clue, so I hope the researchers figure out more about it.

I did get the blood test, at least, and the rest, so I'm not just flying blind.

Tina said...

I got that too! It's so crazy. I am trying to get a group on facebook, Alpha-Gal. We all need a place to get together and share this crazy thing.