06/20/2012 03:45 pm ET Updated Jun 20, 2012

Lone Star Tick Bites Linked With Meat Allergy

Ticks might spread more than just Lyme Disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever -- they may also be responsible for an allergy to meat, according to new research.

ABC News reported on a possible link between bites from the lone star tick -- found throughout the U.S. -- and an allergy to meat.

The research comes from University of Virginia scientists, who found that some people who are bitten by the tick develop an allergic reaction to meat, in the form of itchy hives and even anaphylactic shock, about three to six hours after eating the food, according to ABC News.

"It's hard to prove," researcher Dr. Scott Commins, an assistant professor of medicine at UVA, told ABC News. "We're still searching for the mechanism."

CNN reported that more than 1,500 people have so far been affected by this strange meat allergy, called galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose, or alpha-gal.

"Perhaps there is an organism in the tick's saliva that makes a person allergic to the alpha-gal sugar in mammalian meat," Commins told CNN.

The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology noted on its website that, indeed, having an anaphylactic reaction to red meat that is delayed by several hours seems to be strongly linked with lone star tick bites, citing Commins' 2011 study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Love meat too much to risk getting an allergy to it? The Centers for Disease recommends preventing tick bites by using DEET-containing bug repellant, washing yourself within two hours of coming inside from outdoors, doing a tick check with a mirror, looking for ticks on your gear and pets and avoiding walking in grassy, bushy areas.

For more on the allergy, watch the ABC News report above.