by Darcie Clements
January 25, 2018
It is worth noting that an additional condition very similar to alpha-gal syndrome was described back in the 90s. Pork-cat syndrome should be suspected if reactions seem limited to pork (and rarely beef) products, and the alpha-gal blood test comes back negative, or if reactions to red meat happen in less than an hour. Oddly, people with pork-cat syndrome will test positive for allergies to cats, but sometimes do not have clear allergic reactions to pet cats.15 Instead, they have massive allergic reactions to pork. This is how it got its name. Unlike alpha-gal syndrome, pork-cat syndrome is caused by a protein (like most food allergies), and reactions occur in less than an hour. At this time, it is thought that pork-cat syndrome is more like a classic allergy with an unusual cross reaction, rather than something as unique as the alpha-gal allergy. It was originally assumed that keeping cats caused the condition, but the allergy is rare outside of Europe, lending evidence to the theory that keeping cats is not directly related beyond the fact that doing so may make it worse.
It is not unheard of for someone to have both alpha-gal syndrome and pork-cat syndrome at the same time, and early studies frequently confused the two, leading to muddled data. Now that both conditions have blood tests, newer data sets are able to avoid this problem, by only including patients who test blood positive to the condition of interest. While diagnosing alpha-gal syndrome still has a long way to go as far as consistency and assurance of results is concerned, progress is being made on a regular and consistent basis. For now, dealing with the symptoms and reactions that result continues to be one of the most difficult aspects of the condition.