The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) has released new clinical guidance to help physicians and patients identify if unexplained digestive symptoms are due to alpha-gal syndrome, a food allergy that is caused by lone star tick bites. The AGA Clinical Practice Update was published today (March 21, 2023) in the medical journal Gastroenterology.
Alpha-gal syndrome is an allergy that causes your body to react to eating meat from mammals and products made from mammals. Symptoms usually start 2-6 hours after eating the mammalian meat or food.
Clinicians should consider alpha-gal syndrome in patients with unexplained gastrointestinal symptoms of abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. This is particularly important with those who live or have lived in an alpha-gal–prevalent area (this includes the Southeast, mid-Atlantic, Midwest, and East Central U.S. regions). For patients with suspected alpha-gal, there is a blood test that looks for immunoglobulin E antibodies (IgE) to alpha-gal. Patients with these antibodies may have alpha-gal allergy. The main treatment for alpha-gal allergy is to not eat foods that contain alpha-gal. This includes mammalian meat, fat, and products made from them.
About Alpha-gal syndrome
Alpha-gal syndrome is an allergy that causes your body to respond badly to ingesting mammalian products; meat from mammals or products made from mammals such as cheese, butter, milk, cream, gelatin, etc. Mammals are animals that have hair, such as cows, pigs, and deer. Symptoms usually start 2-6 hours after eating the mammalian meat or food. The alpha-gal allergy can cause symptoms of the gastrointestinal tract (digestive system) like stomach pain, diarrhea (loose stool), nausea or upset belly, and vomiting (throwing up). It can also cause hives (an itchy rash), flushing of the skin, swelling of the face, or fainting.
About lone star ticks
Lone star ticks (Amblyomma americanum) are a species of tick found predominantly in the southeastern and eastern United States. They are named for the distinctive white spot on the back of adult females, which resembles the shape of the state of Texas. Lone star ticks are known for their aggressive behavior, feeding on a variety of hosts, including humans, dogs, and deer. They are also known to carry diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, and alpha-gal syndrome, a food allergy that causes the body to react to mammalian meat.
As the official journal of the AGA Institute, Gastroenterology is the leading publication in the field of gastrointestinal disease. It provides reliable and current coverage of both clinical and basic gastroenterology, with regular contributions from renowned experts and the latest information on disease treatments. Original research is categorized by clinical and basic-translational content, as well as by content related to the alimentary tract, liver, pancreas, and biliary system.