Hundreds of people on the East End have become allergic to red meat in recent years after being bitten by the Lone Star tick, with scattered cases cropping up elsewhere across Long Island, medical experts say.
The condition — called alpha-gal allergy — has transformed some people who have eaten red meat for decades into patients under doctors’ orders to abstain from all meat from mammals, including beef, pork, lamb, goat and venison. Patients are subject to hives, rapid heart palpitations, pervasive itching and, in the worst and rarest of cases, life-threatening anaphylactic shock.
Alpha-gal allergy is relatively new to medicine, first described in 2009 by a physician-scientist at the University of North Carolina. It has morphed into a global public health concern, with Long Island as one of the disorder’s leading focal points. At the same time, the region is seeing an explosion in the population of the Lone Star tick, a transplant from the Deep South.
“I have been treating people with this allergy since 2010,” said Dr. Erin McGintee, an allergist in Southampton who was the first physician to identify the condition on the Island and now has nearly 400 patients with the allergy.
“My youngest patient is 3 years old and I have patients in their 80s and…
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