A bug commonly found in Tennessee is suspected to contribute to a rare allergy.
The "Lone Star Tick" makes its home in several states across the Southeast. A Virgina-based allergy doctor reports a possible link between the tick's bite and an allergic reaction to red meat.
According to the study, hundreds of people have been diagnosed with the allergy, which can cause symptoms like hives, rash, and even anaphylactic shock.
"They've identified upwards of 400 people in Virginia with food allergies," explained Dr. Mark Rasnake, an Infectious Disease Doctor at UT Medical Center.
"They found through doing a good epidemiological investigation that the majority of these people had been bitten by ticks, usually the Lone Star tick," he said.
While the research has made national headlines, Dr. Rasnake says the studies are still inconclusive. He hasn't seen the same results locally, and says it is highly unlikely somebody will develop the allergy from a "Lone Star" bite.
"I have not heard or seen of any patients here at the Medical Center with meat allergy from a tick bite," he said.
However, East Tennesseans have been diagnosed with other tick-borne illnesses.
Another common Tennessee tick, the "American Dog Tick," can transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Health officials also keep a close eye on Lyme Disease around the country.
Dr. Rasnake says anyone who has been bitten by a tick should remove it slowly, using tweezers pinched as close to the bug's head as possible.
To read more about the tick-borne illnesses, visit the following links to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.