Mammalian Meat Allergy (Alpha-gal Syndrome)

Mammalian Meat Allergy (Alpha-gal Syndrome)

Hypersensitivity type may be- Type I Allergy
Immune reactions may be from- IgE
Reactions may occur in- Minutes (Can have a delayed onset of symptoms)

Mammalian Meat Allergy is also known as Alpha-gal Syndrome (AGS) or Alpha-gal Allergy. Mammalian Meat Allergy is caused by being sensitised earlier (being bitten earlier) by the Paralysis Tick.

When people with this allergy consume mammalian meat, a reaction is caused by the Alpha-gal sugar molecule found in the meat. This causes causing an allergic reaction that can range from minor to severe and life-threatening. Mammalian Meat Allergy reactions are similar to those of other food allergies. However, unlike other food allergies, it may, in some cases, have a delayed onset of symptoms 2-10 hours from ingestion. 

What are Mammals? Mammals are a diverse group, but they all are vertebrates that produce milk to feed their young, have hair or fur, have a unique jaw structure and are warm-blooded.

Mammals include Cows, Pigs, Kangaroos, Sheep, Goats, Deer, Rabbit, etc. From mammals, people consume beef, pork, lamb, etc.

While this allergy occurs through foods containing Alpha-gal, it may also occur through exposure to products containing Alpha-gal, such as gelatin-coated medications and mammalian milk (Cows Milk, Goats Milk, etc).

Some of the symptoms may be characterised by:

  • Stomach pain
  • Stomach cramps
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Itching of the mouth, throat, eyes, skin or any other area
  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Nausea
  • Urticaria/ Hives
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Asthma aggravation

The validity and severity of these symptoms are dependent on the individual and the level of exposure, as determined by a qualified health care provider.

If you experience or are in the presence of someone that encounters an immediate serious reaction (this may include difficulty breathing, wheezing, throat tightening, swelling, collapse, etc), call or have someone call triple zero (000) immediately.

In the case of a minor allergic reaction, people may use Antihistamines along with other medications based on their individual symptoms and prescribed treatments.

severe allergic reactions Epinephrine may be used, followed by seeking emergency medical attention. However, some people may not be able to use Epinephrine due to particular reasons.

It’s important for anyone with an Allergy, to discuss treatments with a qualified health care provider to understand how to manage individual allergies and also to set up an 
Allergy Action Plan in the case of a reaction.

Always present your Allergy Card, Medical Alert Bracelet or Necklace to ensure health care providers, family members, friends, colleagues and others are aware of your Allergy or Allergies.

A blood test may be used to test for Mammalian Meat Allergy. This may be tested in conjunction with other testing as requested by your health care provider.

Some labels or terms you may come across on Mammalian Meat Allergy friendly products:
"Meat Free" "Vegan"

The Australian Tick can be about 1cm long and may be a grey-blue colour.

The information provided on Allergy Life Australia is to generally educate and inform you about living with allergies, intolerances and conditions, and is not intended as medical instruction or as a substitute for diagnosis, examination and advice by a qualified health care provider.



1 comment

  • Susan Weaver

    Yes, I have been unable to eat meat or dairy products for nearly 5 – 6 years, worsening in the last year. I live in Sydney and have camped or caravanned a lot on both the South and Central Coasts of NSW.
    I have travelled over seas and cruised back twice since 2018 I have visited Hawaii, Tahiti, Noumea, Fiji, Singapore, Komodo Island, Bali.
    I know I have been bitten by ticks, but do not know of a specific time.
    5 – 6 years ago I developed severe hay fever and mild stomach discomfort if I digested full cream milk. Over the years it has worsened to now, not being able to digest any type of meat or dairy product (Goats Cheese is the only thing that I can still eat and not get sick).
    If I digest any meat bi-product the reaction is not as bad as if I had eaten the actual meat, symptoms can persist from 6 hours to 4 days, they include:
    Stomach pain/burning
    Stomach cramps
    Upset stomach
    Itching of the mouth, throat, eyes, skin or any other area
    Nasal congestion
    Runny nose

    I would love nothing more than to be able to eat and enjoy a lamb roast or big thick steak.

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