CDC says allergies caused by tick bites increasing; Ozarks woman offers help

CDC says Alpha-Gal Syndrome becoming more common.
CDC says Alpha-Gal Syndrome becoming more common.(KY3)
Published: Jul. 30, 2023 at 8:55 PM CDT
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HOWELL COUNTY, Mo. (KY3) - Alpha-Gal Syndrome is a mysterious illness that is getting more common here in the United States. You can get it from a tick bite. It’s also known as a red meat allergy.

Katie Cahoj of Howell County has the syndrome.

”I went into anaphylactic shock. My blood work showed that I had a mild heart attack at 27 years old, which was like horrifying,” said Cahoj.

In a recent study, Centers for Disease Control officials said Missouri is one of the most common areas with suspected cases. Missouri also has the Lone Star tick, which can cause it. CDC officials said Alpha-Gal syndrome is becoming more common.

If bitten by a tick, you could potentially develop an allergy to red meat, dairy, and even gel capsules. Cahoj said she was bitten in 2020.

“All my reactions are cardiac. It starts off with like tingling in my face,” said Cahoj.

CDC officials said symptoms are similar to allergic reactions, breaking out in hives and your throat closing. CDC estimates over 450,000 people here in the US have been affected. But Cahoj said she turned her allergies into good.

“My husband was really supportive, and he was like, you probably need to start actually putting these recipes that you’re trying together into a book,” said Cahoj. “So people can have a resource.”

Her cookbook, ‘An Alpha Gal Cooks,’ was published in late 2021. She said she made it because there were few resources to help people with the syndrome.

“I felt very defeated for a long time,” said Cahoj. “Then I thought, no, this is not who I am. As a person, I need to get over myself. I need to figure this out.”

She said her issue was that every meal was a trial and error. But she said her recipes can help your pain.

“I want people to know what’s wrong with them and to stop harming themselves inadvertently,” said Cahoj.

Cahoj said if you think you may have allergic reactions after eating red meats, call your doctor and ask for a tick panel.

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