Can This Tick Turn You Into A Vegetarian?

Just the thought of a bite from a tick turning you into a vegetarian is enough to make venison-loving hunters get the shivers, but it’s possible. Maybe.

Lone star tick

University of Virginia researchers believe the tiny lone star tick has a chemical in its saliva that could cause you to avoid meat. The saliva causes an allergic reaction to meat that prevents those infected with it to seek other food sources.

ABC News reported the astounding story recently and spoke with the Virginia researchers studying the weird development. The tick gets its name from a small, white spot on its back.

“People will eat beef and then anywhere from three to six hours later start having a reaction; anything from hives to full-blown anaphylactic shock,” Dr. Scott Commins, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, told ABC News. “And most people want to avoid having the reaction, so they try to stay away from the food that triggers it.”

Commins said he’s seen about 400 cases involving meat allergies and about 9 out of 10 involved one or more tick bites. Most cases are being reported in areas that have a high population of ticks, including the East Coast and parts of the Southeast and Midwest.

We know about ticks and Lyme disease, a debilitating disease that can affect joints, muscles and sometimes cause death. Find out more here about it.

Check out the full report about the “meat allergy” situation from ABC News.