Tick that makes people allergic to red meat spotted in Ontario

Scientists can’t quite explain it, but a bite from a Lone Star tick can cause an allergy to alpha-gal, a carbohydrate found in red meat. An allergic reaction can cause hives, vomiting, and diarrhea and there is no known cure other than to avoid consuming the meat.

Those previously diagnosed with the allergy have been primarily living in the southeast U.S., but newer cases have been found in Minnesota and New Hampshire. Cases have also been found in Europe and Australia, leading some experts to believe other ticks can spread the condition as well.

A veterinary clinic in southern Ontario is sounding the alarm after discovering a rare tick known to cause a meat allergy in humans.

The Oakridge Animal Clinic in London, Ont. said a woman recently brought in a Lone Star tick that had been found on her cat. The clinic added that the cat did not have any travel history, meaning it must have encountered the bug locally.

Lone Star ticks are native to the southeastern United States and Mexico, but have been found further north in recent years. They are occasionally found in Canada and are believed to arrive on the backs of migrating birds.