Welcome to the Food Borne Disease Site. The sources of the foodborne illness pathogens are ubiquitous. Food and food products will always be contaminated with low levels of pathogens. At low levels, pathogenic microorganisms cause no problems. At illness thresholds, however, they can make people ill and cause death.

Thursday, December 08, 2022

Alpha-gal Syndrome

Alpha-gal syndrome (AGS) (also called alpha-gal allergy, red meat allergy, or tick bite meat allergy) is a serious, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. It is a reaction to the carbohydrate galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose ("alpha-gal"), whereby the body is overloaded with immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies on contact with the carbohydrate.

Most patients that become allergic to alpha-gal have tolerated red meat for years before being sensitized by a tick bite. In the United States, the condition usually begins with the bite of the Lone Star tick. The bite transfers a sugar molecule called alpha-gal into the body. In some people, this triggers a reaction from the body's defenses, also called the immune system.

Alpha-gal patients often to have digestive symptoms, such as rash, hives, nausea or vomiting, difficulty breathing, drop in blood pressure, dizziness or faintness and severe stomach pain. Unlike most food allergies, these symptoms typically occur 3-6 hours after eating red meat or dairy products.

Most food allergies are directed against a protein molecule, but alpha-gal is unusual because it is a carbohydrate, and a delay in its absorption may explain the delay in symptoms.

Foods or food ingredients may contain alpha-gal:

*Mammalian meat (such as beef, pork, lamb, venison, rabbit, etc.) can contain high amounts of alpha-gal. Certain cuts of meat may contain more alpha-gal than others.

*Food products that contain milk and milk products typically contain alpha-gal. Many patients with AGS can tolerate milk products. Cow’s milk is the only alpha-gal containing ingredient classified as a major food allergen.

*Other foods that cause allergic reactions in people are egg, fish, wheat, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, and soybeans.
Alpha-gal Syndrome

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