Map Shows States Warning People About Bug That Causes Meat Allergy

A number of states across the U.S. have recently issued warnings about a bug that can cause individuals to develop a meat allergy if bitten.

Last year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a report detailing that from 2010 to 2022, there were over 100,000 suspected cases of alpha-gal syndrome, which is "primarily associated with the bite of a lone star tick in the United States."

"Alpha-gal is a sugar found in meat from mammals (pork, beef, rabbit, lamb, venison, etc.) and products made from mammals (e.g., gelatin, cow's milk, milk products, some pharmaceuticals). AGS is a serious allergic condition some people experience after they consume food or products containing alpha-gal," the CDC stated in its report.

However, in 2024, several states have warned residents of the risks associated with a bite from a lone star tick and the prevalence of these bugs ahead of the coming summer months. Newsweek reached out to the CDC via email for comment.

Newsweek has compiled a list of states that have issued warnings which are shown with red dots on the map below.

map shows states warning people about bug that causes meat allergy

A map created by Newsweek shows that different states that have warned residents of a tick that can cause a meat allergy. Newsweek/Newsweek

Georgia

Last month, researchers at Emory University in Georgia published a report that found "the areas with the highest probability for the presence of lone star ticks include parts of the Southeastern Plains and Piedmont ecoregions of the state, including metro Atlanta."

The researchers noted that the bite of a lone star tick is heavily associated with alpha-gal syndrome and "a potentially life-threatening allergy to red meat and dairy products."

Michigan

In March, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services released a report on different ticks in the state and warned of the lone star tick.

According to the report, these ticks are most commonly found "in wooded and grassy areas across the state."

"An aggressive biter of humans and companion animals, adult females have distinctive 'Lone Star' mark," the report said.

North Carolina

North Carolina State University has a report on different ticks in the state, which includes the lone star tick and states that "adults and nymphs are abundant in the spring and summer months. The mite-like larvae of this species, commonly called seed ticks, are abundant in the fall."

"In this stage, the lone star tick readily attacks humans. This tick is found in habitats similar to those of the American dog tick," the report said.

Virginia

Last month, Josh Bernick an epidemiologist at the Virginia Department of Health spoke to WAVY news in Virginia and said that lone star ticks can be found in the coastal plains of the state and the lower Piedmont areas.

"Suburban and urbanized areas with fragmented forests tend to see abundant wildlife and domesticated animals, which could contribute to a rising tick population," Bernick told the local outlet. "Early detection and removal of ticks can reduce a person's chances of becoming ill, and a check can be done before showering."

Connecticut

In March, Gale Ridge, an associate scientist at the Connecticut Agriculture Experiment Station spoke to the Hartford Courant and explained that lone star ticks can be found in different parts of the state.

"People should stay to trails and not bushwhack, simply because with the blacklegged tick, they're stealth ticks, so they will climb out of the leaf litter, climb up low vegetation or brush, and then hook on, just put their two front legs out and wait for someone or some animal to pass and then they hook on as you go by," Ridge told the Hartford Courant.

Ridge also told the newspaper that hikers should check themselves after hikes to make sure that they are tick-free.

A number of other states have also seen reported cases of lone star ticks, such as Florida, where one person spoke to WJXT news and said he kept noticing hives after eating and eventually noticed that "it was from eating beef or a hamburger."

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