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Rare 'Lone Star Tick' comes to Wisconsin

The southern native tick can cause some people to develop an allergy to red meat
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Posted at 5:52 PM, Jul 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-01 21:44:16-04

OSHKOSH — The last time it was spotted was five years ago. However, this year, the rare type of tick is back.

The lone star tick, is native to southern states, but has now made its way up to Wisconsin. Experts from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources say the tick may have latched on to a bird that flew to Wisconsin. The bizarre thing about this tick, is the allergy it causes humans to develop. In some cases, humans bit by the tick develop an allergy to red meat.

"Lone star tick is one of the less common ticks we encounter in Wisconsin," said Bill McNee, a forest health specialist with the DNR. "Over the past five years or so, people have been noticing a connection between lone star tick bites, and a rare but possible red meat allergy that develops after being bit by this tick."

McNee says the tick bites an animal and absorbs sugars found in the meat. Once the tick then bites the human, it transfers that sugar over to the human which can lead to an allergic reaction. The allergy can be simple, or severe.

"The reactions can be anything from a simple rash to a trip to the hospital," McNee said. "It all depends on the case."

The good news however, the allergy does not last long.

"The allergy usually wears off in a few months or years," McNee said. "So you are not going to be a vegetarian for long."

Regardless, health experts advise people to use proper tick prevention.

"Check yourself at least once per day," said Kelly Hunter from Bellin Health. "Tuck your pants into your socks if need be. Also, repellent with a lot of deet can help as long as it is used on clothes."

The DNR also asks, if you the lone star tick, to let them know as soon as possible.