Oklahoma woman contracts ‘meat-allergy’ from tick bite

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TULSA, Okla. – It’s something that happens to thousands of Oklahomans every single year.

So when Nancy Phelps was bitten by a tick in 2017, she didn’t think anything of it.

“They fall off trees. They’re out in the grass,” Phelps told KJRH. 

However, her health soon began to take a turn for the worse. She started to break out in rashes, her face and tongue swelled and she was experiencing stomach problems.

She ended up spending countless hours in the hospital because she felt like she couldn’t breathe.

“Within about a week’s time, I was in the emergency room with Anaphylaxis eight different times,” Phelps said.

After seeing several doctors, she soon learned that it was all because of a tick bite. She learned that she had been bitten by a Lonestar Tick and was given the Alpha Gal Allergy, which causes an allergic reaction to all mammal-based products.

“They could feed on an infected animal, get a parasite that then when they feed on a human, that human could be infected,” Luisa Krug, the epidemiology supervisor for the Tulsa County Health Department, said.

Phelps now suffers a severe reaction anytime she consumes mammal bi-products or is around them. Her allergy is so bad she even has to worry about cross-contamination.

Make up, toiletries, laundry and dishwashing soaps are also a problem.

To avoid tick bites while outside:

  • Wear light-colored long pants, long sleeves and socks treated with permethrin
  • Apply insect repellents with 20-50 percent DEET on skin and clothing
  • Check for ticks constantly.
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