Move over Michelle Obama, there’s a new healthy eating advocate in town. According to researchers at the University of Virginia, the bite of the lone star tick is causing intolerance to meat all across the east coast.
The tiny blood-sucking pest is named for the small white spot visible on its back. Scientists have discovered a link between a chemical in the tick’s saliva and the onset of an allergic reaction to meat. In other words, the tick’s bite has the power to turn a carnivore into a vegetarian.
“People will eat beef and then anywhere from three to six hours later start having a reaction; anything from hives to full-blown anaphylactic shock,” said UVA assistant professor of medicine Dr. Scott Commins. He claims to have linked the tick's bite to cases of meat intolerance in over 400 individual patients.
“It’s hard to prove,” said Dr. Commins. “We’re still searching for the mechanism. It’s complicated, no doubt, but we think it’s something in the [tick’s] saliva.”