A Lone Star tick is the culprit behind Alpha-gal, a food allergy due to a tick bite. (Contributed photo)

“Empower Yourself to Live Well with Alpha-gal” will be held on Saturday, August 25 at the New College Institute in Martinsville.

Registration information can be found at the Reynolds Homestead webpage www.reynoldshomestead.vt.edu, or call Lisa Martin, symposium organizer, at (276) 694-7181, extension 22.

Many people are familiar with Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever, two tick-borne illnesses that can be contracted in Virginia. A new tick-borne allergic reaction has been discovered, triggered by the saliva of the Lone Star tick which causes the human immune system to produce antibodies to a carbohydrate called alpha-gal, which is found in red meat.

Unlike other food allergies, alpha-gal is unique in that its reactions are delayed. Sometimes symptoms do not appear until several hours after exposure, which can make them difficult to diagnose.

These red meat allergies are on the rise across Virginia and North Carolina, where deer populations have spiked in recent years. The Lone Star tick is primarily a deer tick and that correlation may be…

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