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Alpha-gal Defined

Alpha-gal is shorthand for the carbohydrate molecule galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose, which is found in the saliva of the Lone Star and possibly other ticks, in mammalian (or red) meat, and in association with a cancer drug, cetuximab. People who are bitten by the tick or receive cetuximab can become allergic to this carbohydrate and may subsequently develop a delayed onset allergy (such as hives, shortness of breath, or anaphylaxis) to red meat (known as alpha-gal allergy or syndrome), dairy (milk products) and products containing gelatin. This is an increasingly common cause of previously unexplained anaphylaxis in the United States.

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