Lone Star tick spreading in RI, bite could cause food allergy

Although it’s a rare complication, a bite from the Lone Star tick could cause a person to develop an allergy to red meat

By: Tim Studebaker

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KINGSTON, R.I. (WLNE) – A new type of tick, the Lone Star tick, has been spreading across Rhode Island in recent years.

Doctor Thomas Mather is a Professor of Entomology at URI, and he’s the Director of the University’s Tick Encounter Resource Center.  He says, “It’s a tick that’s been moving up from the south.  It’s now become the most common tick people encounter on Long Island.”

Mather says when it comes to our area, the Lone Star tick was first spotted on Prudence Island, but now it’s routinely found in several other parts of Rhode Island.

Mather says, “Jamestown Island has become completely infested with this tick as well, and we had been finding it in sort of spotty areas around the bay.  But now, we’re finding it pretty consistently.”

He says it’s been reported in places like Warwick, East Greenwich, Riverside, North Kingstown, Charlestown, and Little Compton.  While they don’t transmit Lyme disease or Powassan virus, their bite can lead to a potential health complication that will really catch your attention.

Mather says, “In some people, and this really freaks people out unless you’re a vegan, it is associated with the development – eventual development – of some level of red meat allergy.”

Mather says it’s a rare complication, but it’s increasing and it’s worth paying attention.  Symptoms show up anytime an affected person eats red meat.

Mather says, “It can be as mild as sort of indigestion, and in some people it can be as severe as an anaphylaxis.”

Prevention methods include: tucking in your clothes, wearing clothes treated with permethrin, and doing a full body tick check when you get home.

For more information about ticks and preventing illness, visit the TickEncounter website: https://web.uri.edu/tickencounter/

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Categories: News, Rhode Island