ALPHA-GAL INFORMATION

A project of the Alpha-gal Syndrome              Awareness Campaign

Alpha-gal Syndrome

The Epidemic You Never Heard of

Alpha-gal syndrome (AGS), or mammalian meat allergy,  is a tick-induced allergy to galactose-α-1,3-galactose (1). This sugar, commonly known as alpha-gal, is found in all mammals except for humans and some primates (2).

 

Products made from mammals can also contain alpha-gal. These include mammalian meat (like beef, pork, and lamb), milk and dairy products, gelatin, medications, medical products (like heparin and vaccines), personal care products (like lotion and make-up), and many other items. (3)

 

Reactions, which can be life-threatening, may be immediate, as in the case of injected drugs, or delayed from 2 to 10 hours, as is typical after the consumption of  mammalian meat (1).

In the U.S.,
lone star tick bites
are thought to be the primary source of sensitization (4).

Many other ticks in other parts of the world are also associated with alpha-gal syndrome (5).

While it is a growing epidemic, there is still lack of awareness about the alpha-gal syndrome leading to delay in diagnosis and misdiagnosis. This is a great website to explore more.

Prof. Akiko Iwasaki

See Prof Iwasaki’s alpha-gal syndrome Twitter thread here.

NEWS

Question: Do up to 10 million Americans have alpha-gal syndrome?

You may be seeing this claim in articles about alpha-gal syndrome in the popular press. It is true that many more people have alpha-gal syndrome than is commonly understood. Up to 3% of some populations in the U.S. where lone star ticks are abundant maybe be affected. However, there are many areas of the U.S. where lone star ticks do NOT occur and where alpha-gal syndrome is rare.

Answer: No, 10 million Americans do NOT have alpha-gal syndrome.

As of 2018, over 30,000 Americans were diagnosed with alpha-gal syndrome. It is likely, based on preliminary data, that hundreds of thousands of other Americans have it but have not been diagnosed or have been misdiagnosed as having GI disorders, etc. But ten million? No.

Tick season is here. Protect yourself!

Avoiding tick bites

A guide for people with alpha-gal syndrome

Insect Shield

Buy permethrin treated clothing from Insect Shield or have them treat you own clothes.

Tick Encounter

Learn more from the Tick Encounter’s #BeReadyforTicks resource.

TickEase Tweezers

To remove ticks safely, you need pointy-tipped (not blunt-tipped) tweezers. TickEase is a popular brand..

Have you been bitten by a tick?

Do you get sick in the middle of the night after eating red meat?

Do you have unexplained anaphylactic reactions, hives, GI issues, or arthritis?

You may have alpha-gal syndrome.

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What is Alpha-gal Syndrome?

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Symptoms

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Diagnosis and Testing

New: an ICD code for alpha-gal syndrome

2022 ICD-10-CM Diagnosis Code

Z91.014

Fast facts about
alpha-gal syndrome

 

“In this unselected cohort from central Virginia, the prevalence of a-Gal sIgE was 15.1% but self-reported mammalian meat allergy was 2.2%.

Richards N., et al.

“…in the southeastern United States, approximately 3% of the general population exhibits anaphylaxis after consumption of mammalian meat.”

John Bianchi

“In certain geographic areas and in populations with high tick exposure, the level of sensitization can be 15-35% but this does not represent clinical AGS, which appears to occur in 1-8% of sensitized individuals.”

Scott P. Commins, MD, PhD

“In geographic areas where tick bites are common, AGS is likely under- recognized and under-diagnosed. We suggest testing for alpha-gal IgE in tick-endemic areas as part of the evaluation for cases of idiopathic anaphylaxis, recurrent urticaria and/or angioedema, as well as recurrent, episodic gastrointestinal cramping of unestablished cause.”

Scott P. Commins, MD, PhD

#1

trigger of anaphylaxis in adults (9,10)*

#1

cause of adult-onset allergy*

Up to 3%

of some populations*

*most of the southeastern U.S. and other populations with high tick exposure, including areas of the Midwest and much of the eastern U.S.

15-35%

of the population in the southern U.S. and large areas of the Midwest and eastern U.S. is sensitized to alpha-gal

Over 34,000

The number of Americans diagnosed has risen from 12 in 2009 to over 34,000 in 2019. It is estimated that there may be a million or more undiagnosed cases in the U.S. alone.

3-8 hours

typical delay of reactions after exposure

Up to 60%

of cases have anaphylactic reactions

30-40%

of cases have cardiac symptoms

Up to 20%

of cases have GI symptoms alone

More than 20,000

drugs, vaccines and medical products contain mammalian byproducts

Hundreds

of mammalian byproducts with obscure names like oleic acid are added to foods without being labeled as derived from mammals

7 years

average time to diagnosis due to lack of physician awareness

Contact alphagalinformation@gmail.com with any questions. We would be happy to provide you with more information, including references.

Learn about the GI Variant of Alpha-gal Syndrome

CME Course: Alpha-Gal Allergy as a Cause of Intestinal Symptoms in a Gastroenterology Community Practice

Immunoglobulin E to alpha-gal may be an underrecognized but frequent cause of gastrointestinal tract symptoms in eastern North America in the habitat distribution of the Lone Star tick.

Isolated GI Alpha-Gal Meat Allergy: What Clinicians Need to Know

Sarah K. McGill, MD, MSc

ACOG Virtual Grand Rounds

August 19, 2021

Newly diagnosed? Start here!

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What Do My Test Results Mean?

Management of Alpha-gal Syndrome

Alpha-gal Tolerance Levels

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What Is Alpha-gal Found In?

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Checklist for the Newly Diagnosed

Avoiding Additional Tick Bites

GET HELP

Make an Appointment with an Expert

Find a Support Group

Patient Recommended Physicians

Find Someone Local to Talk To

LEARN MORE

Where does alpha-gal syndrome occur?

Publications Database

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References

1. Commins SP, Satinover SM, Hosen J, et al. Delayed anaphylaxis, angioedema, or urticaria after consumption of red meat in patients with IgE antibodies specific for galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009;123(2):426-433.

2. Galili U, Clark MR, Shohet SB, Buehler J, Macher BA. Evolutionary relationship between the natural anti-Gal antibody and the Gal alpha 1—-3Gal epitope in primates. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1987;84(5):1369-1373.

3. Commins SP. Diagnosis & management of alpha-gal syndrome: lessons from 2,500 patients. Expert Rev Clin Immunol. 2020;16(7):667-677.

4. Commins SP, James HR, Kelly LA, et al. The relevance of tick bites to the production of IgE antibodies to the mammalian oligosaccharide galactose-α-1,3-galactose.  J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2011;127(5):1286-1293.e6.

5. van Nunen SA. Tick-induced allergies: mammalian meat allergy and tick anaphylaxis. Med J Aust. 2018;208(7):316-321.

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We are not physicians or medical professionals, medical or scientific researchers, or experts of any kind. We are laymen with alpha-gal syndrome with no medical or scientific expertise. The information provided by us on alphagalinformation.org  is provided for general informational purposes only. It may contain errors and should be confirmed by a physician. Information provided here is not medical advice and is not a substitute for the advice of a physician or other medical professional. It should not be relied upon for decisions about diagnosis, treatment, diet, food choice, nutrition, or any other health or medical decisions. For advice about making medical and health-related decisions, consult a physician.  

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