It's not a trick question. Rather, it was my revelation of the week. For those of you who don't know, I've been hounded by allergic reactions to beef for over a year now. The onset was a mystery, and no matter how much research I did or how many people I asked, I have not been able to solve this rather inconvenient conundrum.
Until a few days ago.
A conversation with some friends led me to again do a Google search on beef allergies. I had been thinking that for some odd reason, my usually healthy self had trouble producing the enzyme that digests red meat. And then I read this article on a website called Allergic Living. I encourage you to take a look, especially if you live in the South and have been bitten by a tick. Here's the summary:
A Dr. Thomas Platts-Mills at the University of Virginia had a number of patients who were going into anaphylactic shock (which can be deadly) after eating red meat. He had basically no explanation for the phenomenon, until he was bitten by a tick back in 2007. Three months later, he woke up covered in hives after eating red meat for dinner. Not so much fun, but a theory was born.
Sure enough, after asking patients who had developed the allergy if they had been bitten by a tick shortly before eating red meat, he discovered that they indeed had. Every one. Apparently, something in the tick - perhaps the saliva or another organism - reacts with a sugar in the meat, causing the production of an antibody, which then causes the allergic reaction. Fascinating, but I have several questions that remain.
First, why me? My husband has been bitten by ticks but has not (yet) developed a reaction. My sister-in-law, who also had a reaction to red meat after being bitten by a tick, is A negative like me; we are wondering if there is a correlation. Secondly, is there any supplement that I could take to counter this reaction? And finally, how long does it take for the antibodies to work out of one's system?
A nurse friend of mine suggested keeping an epi pen and Benadryl on hand, which is wise. As the last reaction I had involved cramps that rivalled labor pangs, I have no desire to experience that again and am wary that one of my children could develop a reaction. I'd be curious to know if any of you have had a similar experience, or know anyone who has.