Alpha-gal allergy is a reaction to Galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose, whereby the body is overloaded with immunoglobulin E antibodies on contact with the carbohydrate.
An antibody, also known as an immunoglobulin, is a large, Y-shaped protein produced mainly by plasma cells that is used by the immune system to identify and neutralize pathogens such as bacteria and viruses.
Galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose, commonly known as alpha gal, is a carbohydrate found in most organisms' cell membranes.
Immunoglobulin E is a kind of antibody that has only been found in mammals.
Alpha Gal and the Lone Star Tick by NutritionFacts.org
The alpha-gal molecule is found in all mammals apart from Old World monkeys and the apes.
Mammals are any vertebrates within the class Mammalia, a clade of endothermic amniotes distinguished from reptiles and birds by the possession of a neocortex, hair, three middle ear bones and mammary glands.
The Old World monkeys or Cercopithecidae are a family of primates, the only family in the superfamily Cercopithecoidea in the clade of Catarrhini.
Apes are a branch of Old World tailless anthropoid catarrhine primates native to Africa and Southeast Asia.
Tick Bites, Meat Allergies, and Chronic Urticaria by NutritionFacts.org
Bites from the lone star tick or the chigger, which transfer this carbohydrate to the victim, have been implicated in the development of this delayed allergic response which is triggered by the consumption of mammalian meat products.
Despite myths to the contrary, an alpha-gal allergy does not require the afflicted to become a vegetarian, as poultry and fish do not trigger a reaction.
A fish is any member of a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic craniate animals that lack limbs with digits.
Vegetarianism is the practice of abstaining from the consumption of meat, and may also include abstention from by-products of animal slaughter.
Poultry are domesticated birds kept by humans for the eggs they produce, their meat, their feathers, or sometimes as pets.
The allergy most often occurs in the central and southern United States, which corresponds to the distribution of the lone star tick.
The United States of America, commonly referred to as the United States or America, is a federal republic composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions.
In the Southern United States, where the tick is most prevalent, allergy rates are 32% higher than elsewhere.
However, as doctors are not required to report the number of patients suffering the alpha-gal allergies, the true number of affected individuals is unknown.