Perhaps the strangest medical phenomenon discovered in recent years is a link between the lone star tick and an allergy to red meat. The bite of a lone star tick exposes a person to a small carbohydrate called alpha-gal. In a handful of people, this exposure elicits an abnormal immune response that produces a type of antibody called IgE, which causes allergies. Because red meat also contains alpha-gal, people who have been sensitized to the carbohydrate from a tick bite can develop life-threatening anaphylaxis if they consume pork or beef.
On a recent trip, a flight attendant announced that a passenger had a severe peanut allergy and if anyone had food containing peanuts that it be stored away for the entire flight. The apparently widespread belief that re-circulated peanut-tainted air can harm unsuspecting children is wrong, and based on several myths.
Many people think they have a drug allergy, when in fact what they have is drug intolerance. According to the CDC, approximately 10% of all U.S. patients report having an allergic reaction to penicillin, but fewer than 1% of the population is truly allergic to penicillins.
Anaphylaxis (a severe, systemic allergic reaction) can be life-threatening. While this life-threatening reaction is quite uncommon, among the commonest causes of anaphylaxis include drug allergies, food allergies, and insect bites and stings. People who are known to be