| Alpha-gal syndrome |
(disease, biological weapon?)
|A tick-borne allergy to red meat that some have speculated is a biological weapon.|
Alpha-gal syndrome is a recently (2002) identified type of food allergy to red meat and other products made from mammals. In the United States, the condition most often begins when a Lone Star tick bites someone.
The recentness of the discovery, the transmission method and the convenient fit with the environmental drive to stop consumption of red meat has led some to speculate that it is or could be used a biological weapon. [Citation Needed] At the 2016 World Science Festival, bioethicist S. Matthew Liao argued that humans could be made "intolerant to certain kinds of meat" with this allergy to help reduce carbon emissions
The Lone Star tick is found predominantly in the southeastern United States, and most cases of alpha-gal syndrome occur in this region. The tick can also be found in the eastern and south central United States. The condition appears to be spreading farther north and west, as deer carry the Lone Star tick to new parts of the United States. In the past 20 to 30 years, the Lone Star tick has been found in large numbers as far north as Maine and as far west as central Texas and Oklahoma. Alpha-gal syndrome also has been diagnosed in Europe, Australia and Asia, where other types of ticks carry alpha-gal molecules.
The tick bite transmits a sugar molecule called alpha-gal into the person's body. In some people, this triggers an immune system reaction that later produces mild to severe allergic reactions to red meat, such as beef, pork or lamb, or other mammal products.Signs and symptoms of an alpha-gal allergic reaction are often delayed compared with other food allergies. People who are exposed to many tick bites over time may develop more-severe symptoms.