How can you suddenly become allergic to red meat?
Seven years ago, a 56-year-old farm worker on the outskirts of Kansas City, Missouri, had a rash on his back and arm just hours after eating a hamburger. Like many people with AlphaGal Syndrome (AGS), the path from sting to meat allergy was not clear.
Hives and rashes did not always appear after a meat meal or may have occurred several times in a week. In rare cases there was shortness of breath; But the condition was not serious enough to require a visit to the doctor.
In this particular case, recently reported in the journal BMJ Case Studies, the patient’s history of seasonal allergies and the treatment of his HIV infection at the age of 21 became more complex. He reported his symptoms to doctors for years; But there was no progress in definitive diagnosis. Changing detergents did not help, and wearing new clothes was useless. Food allergies were initially ruled out; Because of food allergies, symptoms usually occur within minutes of eating the food you are sensitive to, not hours.
His story is not unusual. Approximately 3% of the population in some parts of the United States is reported to have symptoms associated with Alphafal Syndrome; Although we still have little information about its prevalence. For a patient who undoubtedly has a long history in human history, it seems inconceivable that researchers have only been studying it closely for about 20 years.
In 2002, Thomas Platsmills Studied the allergic reactions of cancer patients; Reactions treated with stoximab. While he was dealing with people who claimed to have an allergic reaction to certain meats and meat products, the connection between the two was the most rare thing he thought of at the time. However, years passed and severe cases of stoxyimab reactions were reported throughout the United States.
Finally, in 2008, Platsmills found the root cause of the problem: the immunoglobulin E antibody response to a carbohydrate called alphagal. Alphagal is a sugar found in various animals; But primates like humans are an exception; In such a way that this sugar is transmitted to patients from transgenic mice; Mice used to make chemotherapy treatments.
Allergies are usually caused by the body reacting to a protein it does not recognize. Dealing with carbohydrates, which could trigger an allergic reaction, was very unusual. However, with the puzzle solved, the question still remains, how do patients develop this allergy from the beginning?
There were several clues to answer this question. One of them was the pattern of cases that suspiciously overlapped with cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Rocky Mountain Fever is a disease known as Texas or LunsterAmblyomma americanum) Transfers.
The second case was an accidental encounter with a hunter who had severe allergic reactions after eating beef. Suspicious, Platzmiles asked the man about the bite. Surely he had been bitten a lot. However, what ultimately convinced the researcher was his personal experience with the disease. Platsmills hesitantly went to the mountains near his house to test his guesses to see if he encountered ticks. Later that year, a meal of mutton led to a well-known allergic reaction.
Today, scientists believe that alfalfa, attached to the proteins in saliva, makes people sensitive to the carbohydrates found in meats such as mutton and beef. Because the compound does not break down during cooking, the body reacts excessively when exposed to it.
The farmer, whose problem was recently described, eventually found doctors who found out about his problem. Seven years after the symptoms first appeared, a friend told him about Alphafal Syndrome. Because ticks were a common danger in his job, he quickly realized the connection. For eight years now, patients with EpiPen (self-injecting epinephrine) and not eating red meat have experienced almost no allergic reactions.
This is the happy ending that we can all learn from. From a research point of view, alfagal syndrome is a relatively new disease, and we still have a lot to learn about the prevalence and interaction of those diseases and other treatments, such as possible reactions to drugs and their components. If you think you will have problems after eating a hamburger, see your doctor; Because all these years of suffering have no justification and your problem is incurable.
This is described in the journal BMJ Case Reports.