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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Meat allergy could be deadly

Joe Graedon

Q. My 16-year-old daughter was diagnosed with alpha-gal allergy several months ago after numerous trips to the ER. She’s had tick bites that itched, swelled and remained a large, hard knot for weeks. She’s also had horrifying late-night reactions in which she was covered in hives.

We live on a farm and raise our own beef and lamb. My daughter handles the sheep and cows daily. She has plans to become an animal veterinarian and has worked with the university vet in various procedures without any problems.

Avoiding mammal meat is just a way of life for her now. When she is out with groups (4-H, etc.), she often has to skip what they eat (at hamburger cookouts, for example). Her friends understand, as they have seen her with a horrible reaction and don’t want to see that again.

A. Alpha-gal allergy is initially triggered by a tick bite. It leads to a delayed but serious allergic reaction to eating meat. Symptoms may include hives, difficulty breathing or anaphylactic shock.

There is a blood test to confirm the allergy. The only solution is to avoid eating meat. Anyone who would like more details about alpha-gal allergy may listen to our one-hour interview with the researcher who discovered it. Search for radio show No. 830 at

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers.Email them via their website: