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