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Raising awareness of alpha-gal allergy

Discussion in 'Addressing Biotoxin, Chemical & Food Sensitivities' started by Morchella, Feb 11, 2015.

  1. Morchella


    My ongoing fatigue issues have finally been resolved, and a major factor turns out to be a bizarre allergy -- the alpha-gal allergy.

    This is an allergy to mammal food products (dairy, beef, pork, venison, etc.) caused BY A TICK BITE. I'm still kind of in awe of how science-fictional the whole thing seems. "Alpha-gal" (really galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose) is an oligosaccharide found in the tissues of all non-primate mammals -- apparently what happens is the tick bites a deer or mouse or other woodland mammal and picks up this compound from their blood, then when it bites a person next, some of the alpha-gal slips in and your body treats it as an invader. Afterwards, when you eat foods containing alpha-gal, your immune system overreacts.

    My problems began with a flu-like illness involving fatigue, chills, and joint pain that went on for several months before the dietary allergy kicked in full steam. My daughter had "fifth disease" (parvovirus b19) when I got ill, so I assumed I had the same thing, since it can present that way in adults. But my son just got it last month, and I got the classic presentation of a week of sniffles followed by 2 weeks of lacy red rash, so now I'm thinking that what I had two years ago might have been a tick-borne illness instead. (I get bit by lone star ticks frequently each spring and summer.) I don't test positive for Lyme or Rocky Mountain spotted fever, but new tick-borne illnesses are being identified all the time in my region of the country. Or maybe it was parvo the first time, and that had some role in my body overreacting to the tick.

    Anyway, I had worked out early on that dairy was my primary trigger -- the only thing that caused full-on anaphylactic symptoms. But I didn't know *why* I suddenly had this new allergy, and I continued to eat red meat without any obvious allergy problems. Once my doctor found out was what really going on and told me to stop eating red meat, too, my energy levels sky-rocketed. Clearly, some sort of immune reaction had been going on that was really wearing me down the whole time, even though I was only getting the IgE-mediated "true allergy" reaction from dairy.

    Interestingly, I was a vegetarian when the whole problem started, and only began eating meat again because I worried that I wasn't getting enough protein without dairy. For the first two months, I mostly ate chicken and fish and felt fantastic -- but as my cooking confidence grew and I started making beef and pork, I started feeling worse and worse again.

    I hope this information will be helpful to someone! This allergy is becoming more and more common in the Lower Midwest and Southeast of the US, but it can occasionally be found in other parts of the country, and there are clusters of it found in Australia and Europe, too.
    Hip, Pepe, Valentijn and 1 other person like this.

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