VIRGINIA

Man suffers from tick-induced meat allergy

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A local man is still dealing with some serious side effects after being bitten by a Lone Star tick.

Researchers from the University of Virginia say they've linked a sudden onset of meat allergies to the bite of the tick. Experts say they've counted 1,000 cases so far, mostly located in central Virginia.

Patrick Cloud is one of those cases.

After he was bitten, Cloud knew immediately that it was not a typical tick bite. It was extra itchy, inflamed and huge. Three months later, it's still there.

What Cloud didn't know was the Lone Star Tick that bit him also made him allergic to meat, an allergy that nearly killed him.

Cloud said, "It's the most pain I've felt in my life."

The rash, which could be seen all over his body, started a few hours after eating a hamburger, and it got worse fast.

"I said, 'Call 911,' I blacked out, had a seizure. Next thing I know, I was at Fauquier Hospital," Cloud recalled.

His fiancée, VIcki, was there when he fainted and then had a seizure.

"I thought he was dying in front of me while I was on the phone with 911. You don't get over that," she said.

Most cases of the tick-induced allergy are located in central Virginia.

As an avid outdoorsman, Cloud is no stranger to tick bites, and researchers say that might have made him more susceptible.

Dr. Scott Commins at the UVA Allergy and Asthma Clinic explained, "From what we can tell, most of the folks that end up with the allergy are outside a lot and often have repeated tick bites, even if it's one or two a year, but they have a repeated exposure."

He now carries an Epi-pen everywhere he goes and is changing his diet.

"I'm shocked that I have it and just relieved it's not seafood. I like seafood a lot better than meat," Cloud laughed.

Researchers are continuing to study the effects of this tick-allergy link. Meanwhile, they're urging people to keep an extra close eye out for the tiny insects, which can be kept away with DEET-based skin repellent.

Commins is one of the two doctors who discovered the link. Those interested in scheduling an appointment with him can reach his office at 434-924-2227.

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