What is Mammalian Meat Allergy?

What is Mammalian Meat Allergy?
While there are many triggers of anaphylaxis, one of the more unusual is mammalian meat allergy.

This allergy develops after a person has been bitten by a tick. These patients may become allergic to all mammalian meat - beef, pork, lamb, kangaroo, and also allergic to meat products, including dairy and anything containing gelatine, glycerine or substances which include traces of animal by-products such as toothpaste, moisturisers and wine. There have been cases of people developing mammalian meat allergy after tick bites and it may manifest as anaphylaxis up to 12+ hrs after ingestion.  

This allergy is produced by a reaction to Alpha-gal (galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose)  which is a carbohydrate found in the blood of all mammals except for humans and the great apes. When ticks bite a mammal such as a bandicoot, possum or rat, they pick up the alpha-gal, and then it is transferred to humans via the tick bite.

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Jackson WL. 2018. Mammalian meat allergy following a tick bite: a case report.  Oxf Med Case Reports. 2018 Feb; 2018(2): omx098. Published online 2018 Feb 21. doi: 10.1093/omcr/omx098.  PMCID: PMC5822700. PMID: 29492269.

van Nunen SA. 2018. Tick-induced allergies: mammalian meat allergy and tick anaphylaxis. Med J Aust; 208 (7): 316-321. doi: 10.5694/mja17.00591. Published online: 16 April 2018

Ken Hambrecht

Ken is the Founder and Principal Consultant for Critical Care Education Services (part of the Medcast Group).
Ph: 1300 898 973 www.criticalcare.edu.au