Massage & Bodywork

NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2018

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44 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k n o v e m b e r / d e c e m b e r 2 0 1 8 education PATHOLOGY PERSPECTIVES Tick-Borne Meat Allergies By Ruth Werner They've been in the New York Times. They're all over National Public Radio. They are tucked in the pages of National Geographic. They might be crawling up the back of your leg right now. Ticks! Ticks are everywhere! This is not the first time I have addressed ticks in these pages. In the November/December 2008 issue of Massage & Bodywork, I published an article on tick-borne diseases, with a special emphasis on Lyme disease ("Tick-Borne Diseases," page 107). Now that these creatures are in the news again, it is time to revisit the topic. A TICK PRIMER The United States is home to about 90 species of ticks, and as I was writing this article, another headline emerged about a new species—the Asian longhorn tick—that has been found all along the US Eastern seaboard and as far west as Arkansas. This species is of interest because in Asia it causes an infection with a 15 percent mortality rate. This has not been observed in the United States yet, but it's something to watch. Ticks are arthropods, which simply means they have exoskeletons and jointed legs. They are in the same class of animals as mites, including the mites that cause scabies. Ticks are ectoparasites: they live on the surface of their hosts, while they feast on that animal's blood—sometimes in such numbers that they can weaken or even kill it. Ticks' hosts are usually mammals, but some ticks prey on reptiles or amphibians. In addition to being bloodsuckers, ticks can be disease vectors, spreading pathogens from animal hosts to human hosts. This is how the bacterium that causes Lyme disease is spread, as well as the microorganisms responsible for ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, tularemia, and several other diseases. A NEW CONDITION Recently a new tick-related condition has emerged. This one isn't related to a pathogen that infects humans. Instead, this situation involves a massive and potentially deadly allergic response to a component of the saliva of lone star ticks. This species is most prevalent in the southeastern United States, although they have now been found as far north as Maine and as far west as Minnesota. The problem is, the triggering substance in lone star tick saliva is also found in meat from almost every mammal. The net result: people who are sensitive

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