Friday, February 20, 2015


I have blogged before about the tick problem we can have when working around the place at certain times of the year.
We usually spray personal repellants before extended time outside but this does not always work especially if you get hot and sweaty and don't reapply.
Normally we just pull the ticks off when we find them.
I get a much more severe reaction to their bites than does the co driver ie. a big red itchy lump that can hang around for weeks.
The other night on TV there was a program about ticks and their relationship to people who have red meat allergies or mammalian meat allergy (MMA).
It appears that ticks who have fed on mammals, other than humans, pick up Alpha-gal (a sugar) which is then bound to a protein in the tick's system. This sugar does not occur in humans (or great apes and Old World monkeys).
When the tick then bites a human this complex is injected into the bloodstream. While the immune system would normally attack the tick protein, not the sugar if separate, it now attacks the sugar-protein complex. So the immune system becomes trained to attack the sugar as well.
As all red met contains the sugar, eating it can produce a severe allergic reaction, sometimes causing death.
Regarding tick bites in general, no one becomes immune to them. Those who have had little or no reaction can suddenly become dangerously allergic.
This was all a bit scarey.
Apparently pulling off a tick either by hand or with tweezers is a big no no. This just results in a bigger injection of toxin especially if the latter is not done precisely. Other methods such as using vaseline to smother the insect is also an "old wives' tale".
The suggested method was, for larger ticks, to use a spray containing ether like Wart Off or Medi Freeze Skin Tag Remover then wait 10 minutes until the tick is dead then just brush it off.
'Freeze it, don't squeeze it' was the catch phrase.
For smaller seed ticks a cream used to treat scabies (permethrin based) was the most effective.
We will certainly be doing this from now on.
The whole story can be read here.

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