A project of the Alpha-gal Syndrome Awareness Campaign
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).
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.
See Prof Iwasaki’s alpha-gal syndrome Twitter thread here.
Did a tick bite cause your digestive issues?
Alpha-gal syndrome can cause GI issues without classic, allergic symptoms like hives.
Learn more from the American Gastroenterological Association.
How to know if a tick bite caused your patients’ digestive problems
New American Gastroenterological Association
Clinical Practice Update on when to test patients for alpha-gal syndrome.
“The current paradigm is that GI doctors should rarely think about food allergies, because those are problems of kids, not adults, and symptoms in allergies should occur reproducibly after exposure. That’s just not true in alpha-gal allergy. Mostly this has been reported in adults, and the delay of hours from eating the meat to reaction means that almost no patient can actually link the two (21).”
Tick season is here. Protect yourself!
Avoiding tick bites
A guide for people with alpha-gal syndrome
Buy permethrin treated clothing from Insect Shield or have them treat you own clothes.
Learn more from the Tick Encounter’s #BeReadyforTicks resource.
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.
What is Alpha-gal Syndrome?
Diagnosis and Testing
New: an ICD code for alpha-gal syndrome
2022 ICD-10-CM Diagnosis Code
Expert Scott Commins Explains Alpha-gal Syndrome
Fast facts about
“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% (7).“
“…in the southeastern United States, approximately 3% of the general population exhibits anaphylaxis after consumption of mammalian meat (6).”
“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 (3).”
“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 (3).”
*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.
of mammalian byproducts with obscure names like oleic acid are added to foods without being labeled as derived from mammals (see the Mammalian Byproducts Database)
Contact email@example.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.
Newly diagnosed? Start here!
What Do My Test Results Mean?
Management of Alpha-gal Syndrome
Alpha-gal Tolerance Levels
What Is Alpha-gal Found In?
Checklist for the Newly Diagnosed
Avoiding Additional Tick Bites
Make an Appointment with an Expert
Find a Support Group
Patient Recommended Physicians
Find Someone Local to Talk To
Where does alpha-gal syndrome occur?
Help Find a Cure
Sign Up for Our Mailing List to Receive Updates
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- Join now to become a part of our AGS community!
Commins SP. Diagnosis & management of alpha-gal syndrome: lessons from 2,500 patients. Expert Rev Clin Immunol. 2020;16(7):667-677.
Platts-Mills TAE, Li RC, Keshavarz B, Smith AR, Wilson JM. Diagnosis and Management of Patients with the α-Gal Syndrome. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2020;8(1):15-23.e1.
Platts-Mills TAE, Commins SP, Biedermann T, et al. On the cause and consequences of IgE to galactose-α-1,3-galactose: A report from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Workshop on Understanding IgE-Mediated Mammalian Meat Allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2020;145(4):1061-1071.
Hilger C, Fischer J, Wölbing F, Biedermann T. Role and Mechanism of Galactose-Alpha-1,3-Galactose in the Elicitation of Delayed Anaphylactic Reactions to Red Meat. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2019;19(1):3.
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.
6. Bianchi J, Walters A, Fitch ZW, Turek JW. Alpha-gal syndrome: Implications for cardiovascular disease. Global Cardiology Science and Practice. 2020;2019(3).
7. Richards NE, Richards RD Jr. Alpha-Gal Allergy as a Cause of Intestinal Symptoms in a Gastroenterology Community Practice. South Med J. 2021;114(3):169-173.
8. Pattanaik D, Lieberman P, Lieberman J, Pongdee T, Keene AT. The changing face of anaphylaxis in adults and adolescents. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2018;121(5):594-597.
9. Commins, SP. (2018). Retrieved from: More people developing red meat allergy from tick bites. CBS News
10. Richards N, Keshavarz B, Workman L, Patel J, Platts-Mills T, Wilson J. Prevalence of α-Gal IgE and Mammalian Meat Allergy in a COVID-19 Vaccine Employee Cohort. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2022;149(2):AB207.
11. Binder AM, Commins SP, Altrich ML, et al. Diagnostic testing for galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose, United States, 2010 to 2018. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2021;126(4):411-416.e1.
12. Commins SP, James HR, Stevens W, et al. Delayed clinical and ex vivo response to mammalian meat in patients with IgE to galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014;134(1):108-115.
13. Fischer J, Yazdi AS, Biedermann T. Clinical spectrum of α-Gal syndrome: from immediate-type to delayed immediate-type reactions to mammalian innards and meat. Allergo J. 2016;25:55-62.
14. van Nunen S. Galactose-Alpha-1,3-Galactose, Mammalian Meat and Anaphylaxis: A World-Wide Phenomenon? Current Treatment Options in Allergy. 2014;1(3):262-277.
15. van Nunen SA. Tick-induced allergies: mammalian meat allergy and tick anaphylaxis. Med J Aust. 2018;208(7):316-321.
16. Wilson JM, Schuyler AJ, Workman L, et al. Investigation into the α-Gal Syndrome: Characteristics of 261 Children and Adults Reporting Red Meat Allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2019;7(7):2348-2358.e4.
17. McGintee, E. (2015). Retrieved from Meat Allergy Triggered by a Tick Bite with Erin McGintee, MD. Southampton Hospital’s Tick-Borne Disease Resource Center Symposium for Medical Professionals.
18. Mabelane T, Basera W, Botha M, Thomas HF, Ramjith J, Levin ME. Predictive values of alpha-gal IgE levels and alpha-gal IgE: Total IgE ratio and oral food challenge-proven meat allergy in a population with a high prevalence of reported red meat allergy. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2018;29(8):841-849.
19. Platts-Mills TAE, Li RC, Keshavarz B, Smith AR, Wilson JM. Diagnosis and Management of Patients with the α-Gal Syndrome. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2020;8(1):15-23.e1.
20. Flaherty MG, Kaplan SJ, Jerath MR. Diagnosis of Life-Threatening Alpha-Gal Food Allergy Appears to Be Patient Driven. J Prim Care Community Health. 2017;8(4):345-348.
21. Look Out for Alpha-Gal Syndrome in Unexplained GI Symptoms, Says AGA: New guidance informs providers on the syndrome’s related digestive problems. Gastroenterology and Endoscopy News. Mar 24, 2023.
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