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"Few cases" of allergy from tick in Maine, pest management says

STATEWIDE (WGME) -- Doctors are blaming a new food allergy on a tick that's been reported in Maine. Studies show a correlation between lone star tick bites and severe allergies to red meat.

Researchers have found evidence that suggests when a lone star tick bites someone, it releases a sugar called alpha-gal into the body.
That same sugar is found in red meat.

"It's a completely new form of food allergy in which you eat beef or pork or lamb and three or four hours later you develop hives," said Dr. Thomas Platts-Mills, an allergy and medicine specialist.

The CDC says the lone star tick is in Maine. But Jim Dill, pest management specialist at the University of Maine says this type of tick is not established yet in Maine.

"We've had a few cases of it, most of them seem to appear to be people who have traveled out of state and have come back in," said Dill.

Dill says people in Maine should still take precautions, including walking in the center of trail, tucking pants into socks, wearing tick repellent and wearing light clothing so the ticks can be easily seen.