Although most of us worry about Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever, scientists believe that a star bite of the solitary star is the cause of a very unusual illness.
Three years ago, Dean Cecil went to emergency for an allergic reaction. A specialist diagnosed him with an allergy to red meat caused by a tick bite. He now wears an EpiPen and must avoid eating pork, lamb and beef.
"I loved cooking your burgers, steaks, and ribs, so these things are no longer on the menu," he said.
"Scientists are not sure why a bite caused by a Lone Star tick bite causes an allergy to carbohydrates, alpha-gal, present in red meat, or their frequency to anyone who has been bitten" said Catherine Roberts, editor of Consumer Reports.
At present, the Lone Star tick is found mainly in the southeastern United States, but their habitats extend and meet as far north as Minnesota and Maine.
Although not all ticks carry the same diseases, there are at least one variety of ticks transmitting diseases in each state.
Blacklegged ticks carry the most common Lyme disease. About 300,000 Americans develop Lyme disease each year.
"One way to avoid a tick-borne infection is to prevent tick bites by always using an effective insect repellent," Roberts says.
Consumer Reports' extensive testing of repellents found that products containing between 25% and 30% of DEET were the best anti-ticks. And be sure to check your health and that of others when you walk in from the outside and take a shower soon after.
For extra protection, throw away clothes that you wear in the dryer on high heat for ten minutes to kill ticks that may still be caught.
And if you find a tick, it is important to remove it properly. Use tweezers to grab the tick as close to the body as possible, then pull straight out.
Pennsylvania also has a program where you can send the tick to a lab to be tested for the disease. For more information, visit: ticklab.org
And if you develop flu-like symptoms, you should consult a health care provider as soon as possible.
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