Lone Star tick makes people allergic to red meat with a single bite is spreading.
The Lone Star tick is named for the shape of the white splotch on the back of adult females. Lone Star ticks at all stages of life bite humans — even the tick's larvae, unlike those of all other American ticks — and can be "quite aggressive," according to the CDC. The tick also feeds on and may catch a ride on cats and dogs.
The Lone Star tick is most common in the Southeast, where Saff practices, but in recent years it has spread up the East Coast and into the Midwest, with large numbers being reported all the way up in Maine. Within the last year, outbreaks of alpha-gal allergy have occurred in Minnesota, New Hampshire, and on the tip of Long Island.
Much about the Lone Star tick and alpha-gal is a mystery. We know something in the tick's bite causes changes in people that make them sensitive to a sugar compound (alpha-galactose) that exists in meat from mammals. Some people develop more sensitivity than others, and a few can tolerate small amounts of meat, but some become so allergic that they can't even consume animal products like dairy milk.