December 16, 2019
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Maine woman develops meat allergy after bite from lone star tick

Maine CDC | BDN
Maine CDC | BDN
The lone star tick can cause people to become allergic to meat with a single bite.

A new species of tick has arrived in Maine.

The lone star tick can cause people to become allergic to meat with a single bite.

In the shadow of a seaside cottage, Patty O’Brien Carrier tries her best to protect herself from pesky insects, but a tick got through.

“I pulled it off of me and thought, uh, and it felt kind of hard, like it had deposited something into my skin, which in fact it had,” O’Brien Carrier said.

[Video: How to keep ticks out of your yard and off your body]

O’Brien Carrier was bitten by a lone star tick, much different that your typical deer or dog tick.

“It’s an aggressive tick, and it wants you,” O’Brien Carrier said.

Experts say the lone star has recently made its way to New England.

“It’s certainly on Maine’s doorsteps, so it may be one of those things where it’s just kind of a matter of time before we find established populations here as well,” Griffin Dill of the University of Maine Tick ID Lab said.

[How to protect your dog from tick-borne diseases]

It carries serious diseases, including making almost anyone bitten allergic to red meat.

“The first one was the worst one, and my breathing was really, really stopping,” O’Brien Carrier said.

But she didn’t realize the allergy until hours after eating and weeks after being bitten.

“People don’t connect the dots. They don’t connect the barbecue they had at 5 o’clock with the fact that they’re ill at 11 o’clock,” O’Brien Carrier said.

Patty says since diagnosis, she’s been more aware of the ticks here in her garden, taking each one, dead or alive, and then sending up to the lab in Orono to be tested.

“So now I collect ticks, and I pop them into Ziploc bags,” O’Brien Carrier said. “It’s been a change in our lifestyle and a change in our diet, and I’m now doing my best to help other people recognize that this is a really nasty tick.”

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