Reports of tick-borne meat allergies are on the rise this summer as a plague of rare, bloodsucking parasites continue to spread across the southern United States. Amblyomma americanum, also know as the Lone Star tick, is an aggressive feeder; actively pursuing the blood of its victims. However, when immunologist Thomas Platts-Mills discovered that its bite could cause meat allergies in 2004, it quickly earned a new name: the reverse zombie tick.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists a number of symptoms including headaches, fever, and muscle pains. But alpha-gal allergy, also known as Mammalian Meat Allergy, may be the most severe, as described by Megan Molteni at Wired:
…they showed that tick bites led to a 20-fold increase in alpha-gal antibodies. Since ethics standards prevented them from attaching ticks to randomized groups of patients, this data was the best they could do to guess how meat allergy arises. Something in the tick’s saliva hijacks humans’ immune systems, red-flagging alpha-gal, and triggering the massive release of histamines whenever red meat is consumed.
Researchers are still attempting to find out exactly what that “something” could be; perhaps a microbe, virus, or residual protein. But the answer may eventually provide an unexpected cure for the inevitable zombie apocalypse! Imagine the walking dead unable to stomach the taste of human flesh; a single bite triggering a deadly allergic reaction.
If we’re unable to prevent or cure the zombie outbreak itself, our only chance may be to alter the behavior of the undead. By unlocking the secrets of the “reverse zombie tick” researchers are well on their way to providing humanity with our next best option.
Thomas Platts-Mills and his team are still studying the epidemic at the University of North Carolina. And in time they may discover the cause, a cure, or even develop a weaponized anti-zombie virus. However, the current danger is still very real. So please read the original article online via Wired for more information, or check out this video from KDAF-TV; especially if you live in the southern United States… because what you don’t know, can eat you!