New study results compound on previous evidence of an association between tick bites and red meat allergy.
Maya R. Jerath, MD, PhD
Patients with alpha-gal allergy have a 5-fold greater risk of also having an allergy to stinging insects.
According to a study presented at the 2018 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunnology (AAAAI) and World Allergy Joint Congress in Orlando, FL, this week, researchers from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, have found evidence of shared immunological factors more greatly influencing patients with red meat allergies towards an insect allergy as well.
The study results compound on previous evidence of an association between tick bites and red meat allergy, and could provide health care providers better guidelines to diagnose possibly dangerous allergies in unknowing patients.
Lead by author Maya R. Jerath, MD, PhD, researchers interviewed and tested 109 patients with alpha-gal allergy for allergy antibodies to alpha-gal, mammalian antigens, and insect venom.Their results were compared with that of 26 control subjects.
Patients with alpha-gal allergy reported a greater rate of allergic reaction following the insect stings, and were 5 times more likely than control subjects to be sensitized (>0.35) to various insects: honey bees, white-faced hornets, common wasps, paper wasps, and fire ants.
The common wasp produced the greatest rate of venom sensitization among the alpha-gal patients, as about 30.3% of the patient population reported being sensitized. Among the control subjects, the most common venom sensitization was in fire ants (15%).
Patients with alpha-gal were also 3.6 times likely to have multiple venom sensitizations than the control group (95% CI; 1.02 — 12.78).
The comprehensive evidence leads researchers to believe that there’s a distinct association between the conditions. That association could be in a shared immunologic determinant or predisposition, other than just atopy.
“Given that both conditions are influenced by environmental exposures, ongoing climate change is likely to make these allergic conditions more common, and health professionals should be mindful of the association,” Jerath said in a statement.
Researchers concluded that, given both conditions are influenced by environmental exposures, ongoing climate change is likely to make these allergic conditions more common.