Alpha-gal syndrome is not your typical food allergy, according to Scott P. Commins, MD, PhD, who spoke exclusively to Healio at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Annual Meeting.
Alpha-gal syndrome is caused by a bite from the lone star tick, which transfers a sugar molecule called alpha-gal into the human body. This triggers an immune response that can lead to allergic reactions to mammalian meat.
The unique form of allergy causes people to become allergic to all mammalian meat products, including those derived from beef, pork, lamb, and venison, and is not limited to foods being consumed. Products from cows and pigs can be found in many everyday items, including vaccines, gelatin, and surgical apparatuses.
People with alpha-gal syndrome can also experience reactions from inhaling fumes from cooking meat or due to cofactors such as exercise, alcohol, lack of sleep, stress, and illness. Dr. Commins stressed the importance of recognizing these factors in managing alpha-gal reactions.
Watch the video interview with Dr Commins for further details about alpha-gal syndrome and the data he presented at the AAAAI annual meeting.