Awash in Ticks
A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month suggested that the United States is virtually awash in ticks — and the illnesses they can spread. Here, they include Lyme disease, a debilitating condition marked by lethargy and aching joints, among other symptoms. Over all, the C.D.C. estimated, some 600,000 Americans were affected by tick-borne diseases from 2004 to 2016, at a rate about three times that of the 12-year period before 2004.
Consider that on the East End, as well as in several other places around the country, ticks, specifically those of the lone star variety, can cause a dangerous allergy to red meat and meat byproducts such as gelatin. This allergy can be easily identified by a blood test, but those affected can often make an armchair diagnosis by noticing the onset of hives, coughing, and itching about three to eight hours after consuming meat, which can sometimes be followed by severe anaphylaxis requiring hospitalization.
Physicians here are increasingly familiar with this allergy, known as alpha-gal, after the carbohydrate suspected of triggering the condition. It is important to note that not all meals with meat trigger symptoms. For some, a lean cut of beef may be okay, while a fattier hamburger may mean a potential late-night trip to the emergency room. In almost all examples, the delay between a meal and the reaction is the telltale; those who suspect they may have the allergy should visit a specialist for confirmation. Unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control have not caught up with the spread of the alpha-gal allergy.
Money is an issue at the C.D.C., as far as tick-borne illnesses go. Just as its May report came out, Senator Charles E. Schumer called for millions in already-appropriated funding to be freed for research and prevention. According to Mr. Schumer, New York, and especially Long Island, have more tick-borne disease than anywhere else in the country.