Owensboro One of Many Parts of Country Seeing Increase in Once-Rare Syndrome

Oct 21, 2016

Lone Star tick
Credit Creative Commons/Joshua Allen

Daviess County doctors are treating as many as 500 patients who are suffering from a once-rare allergy.

Alpha-gal syndrome is spread through tick bites, and leads to allergic reactions after the eating of red meat.

Physicians at Owensboro’s Allergy and Asthma Specialists are seeing an explosion in the number of people diagnosed with the allergy.

Physician assistant Caitlyn Renaud says Alpha-gal is different from a regular allergy because of its delayed reaction time.

“People had dinner at, like, 7 o’clock at night and they ate a steak or cheeseburger. And they would wake up in the middle of the night with swelling, hives, and itching,” she said.  

Other symptoms of Alpha-gal syndrome include abdominal cramping and vomiting.

The allergy especially prevalent in the south-east because of the number of ticks found in the region.

The only treatment for those affected is to avoid eating red meat—something Renaud believes can be a major benefit for patients.

She says patients afflicted with Alpha-gal syndrome often replace red meat with healthier options such as chicken, turkey, and fish. “You’ll see them come in and they feel better, they’ve lost weight, their off their blood pressure medicine or their diabetes medicine.”

Renaud says her Owensboro office has been treating patients with Alpha-gal syndrome as young as two.