The alpha-gal syndrome is a recently described cause of anaphylaxis to red meat that has been increasing in frequency over time. It is related to Lone Star tick bites in the United States and occurs in many other parts of the world. It is especially common in the southeastern United States. In addition to the usual symptoms of anaphylaxis, gastrointestinal symptoms are prominent. Another unusual feature is the delay of several hours between eating meat and the development of symptoms. Diagnosis can be made by a blood test for the immunoglobulin E antibodies to a specific oligosaccharide. As many as 10% of patients diagnosed with idiopathic anaphylaxis have alpha-gal syndrome in some parts of the United States. The only current treatment is a meat-free diet. Clinician awareness of alpha-gal syndrome is low, and because severe recurrent life-threatening episodes can occur, it is an important condition for emergency clinicians to be aware of.
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