The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released two publications stating that suspected cases of Alpha-gal Syndrome have been increasing in the U.S. Alpha-gal syndrome became reportable in New Jersey in 2022, and Cumberland County has a high burden of AGS cases, according to the CDC.
“Alpha-gal syndrome is a potentially life-threatening allergic condition,” said Megan Sheppard, Cumberland County’s health officer. “This is a condition that is associated with tick bites, so it is important to prevent tick bites as best you can when going outdoors.”
This year, tick bite related visits to the emergency room have exceeded the previous five-year average. Lab-reported cases of Lyme disease are back to pre-pandemic levels, while non-Lyme disease tick borne related illnesses have also been steadily increasing over the past five years.
Alpha-gal is a sugar molecule found in mammals, so it is found in red meats and products made from mammals. Alpha-gal Syndrome is an emerging and potentially life-threatening allergic condition that develops after a tick bite.
Symptoms of AGS can include hives/itchy rash, nausea or vomiting, heartburn, diarrhea, swelling of the lips, throat, tongue, or eyelids, and severe stomach pain. These symptoms commonly appear two to six hours after consuming products containing alpha-gal.
The CDC recommends that anyone who is suspected of having AGS go talk to their healthcare provider. To prevent AGS, it is important to prevent tick bites before and after going outdoors.
Check all clothing, gear, and pets for ticks, and remove attached ticks immediately. For more information or questions, visit cdc.gov/ticks/alpha-gal/ or call the Vineland Health Department at 856-327-7602.