Red Meat Allergy Caused by Lone Star Tick Linked to Coronary Artery Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Lone Star Tick” by Katja Schulz is licensed under CC BY 2.0Jeffrey Wilson, MD, PhD

Research Fellow, Allergy & Immunology
University of Virginia 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Galactose-α-1,3-galactose (α-Gal) represents an oligosaccharide that is present in mammalian products and is the causal allergen in a syndrome of delayed red meat allergy (commonly called α-Gal syndrome). Sensitization to this allergen has been linked to tick bites, specifically the lone star tick in the United States.

Thus, sensitization to α-Gal (and the prevalence of subjects with symptomatic red meat allergy) is relatively common where the lone star tick is common, i.e- the southeast.

For a variety of reasons we hypothesized that specific immune sensitization (which relates to IgE antibody production) to α-Gal would be a risk factor for coronary artery disease. To address this possibility we measured IgE specific to α-Gal in 118 adults subjects from central Virginia who had undergone advanced cardiac imaging with a technique called intravascular ultrasound. Out of the cohort 26% of the subjects in the study had the sensitivity to α-Gal.

The main finding was that subjects with the IgE sensitization to α-Gal had greater amounts of atherosclerosis, as well as atherosclerotic plaques with more unstable characteristics. This association was significant when controlled for traditional cardiovascular risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes and lipids levels.

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Lyme Disease Ticks Common in Eastern US National Parks

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Tammi L. Johnson PhD, Microbiologist

Division of Vector-Borne Diseases
CDC

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks, also called deer ticks. Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vectorborne illness in the United States, with approximately 300,000 humans becoming infected each year.

While Lyme disease infections are highly concentrated in the northeast and upper Midwest, the number of counties in which the blacklegged tick has become “established” has more than doubled in the past two decades. Established populations of these ticks are found in 35 states.

Knowing that Lyme disease is increasing both in numbers of infections and in geographic range in the United States, we did this study to determine if people are at risk of encountering infected ticks while recreating in eastern national parks. This is the first large-scale survey in multiple national parks, and though suspected, it had not been confirmed that ticks in many of these parks were infected.

So the purpose of the study was to survey national park units across six Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic States and the District of Columbia, ranging from Maine in the north to Virginia in the south and characterize the risk of human exposure to ticks-borne bacteria.

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Park Service evaluated frequently used trails in Acadia National Park, Catoctin Mountain Park, Fire Island National Seashore, Gettysburg National Military Park, Manassas National Battlefield Park, Monocacy National Battlefield, Prince William Forest Park, Rock Creek Park, and Shenandoah National Park.

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