Delayed Anaphylaxis | Allergy

Delayed Anaphylaxis

by Allergy Guy

Delayed anaphylactic shock is a new idea in the world of allergies.  Previously, it was assumed that anaphylaxis comes on within minutes of being exposed to an allergen, or not at all.

Research carried out at University of Virginia has uncovered a severe delayed allergic reaction, which they call Delayed anaphylactic shock.

It appears to be specific to a meat allergy: beef, pork or lamb.  Anaphylaxis can occur 3 to 6 hours after eating these foods for those who are allergic to it.

Symptoms can start with itching, progressing to hives on the skin’s outer and deeper layers.  Swelling, intestinal irritation come next, along with airway constriction, chaotic heart beat and a rapid drop in blood pressure.

In mild cases anaphylaxis may include only the less serious symptoms, but it is possible for this to progress to the more sever, life-threatening reactions.

“Our conventional understanding is that anaphylaxis happens within seconds or minutes of exposure. The notion that it can be delayed for several hours is a paradigm altering discovery,” says senior study investigator, Thomas Platts-Mills, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Medicine and Microbiology at UVA and head of the Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

The surprising thing about this allergy is that it involves a sugar, not a protein as with the allergies that science has so far become familiar with.

The reaction is triggered when IgE antibodies bind to galactose-?-1,3-galactose (alpha-gal), a kind of sugar.

So what causes the IgE antibodies to alpha-gal to be produced in the first place?

Researchers suspect it is connected with the bite of a ‘seed’ tick, the larval form of various species of ticks such as deer ticks, dog ticks etc.

The researcher suspect that seed tick bites can occasionally cause a meat allergy in people with type A or O blood.  Those with B or AB blood appear to be protected from developing IgE antibodies to alpha-gal sugar.

The study also found that the most common allergy testing method used by allergists, the skin prick test, does not detect a red meat allergy.

Many allergists still believe that allergies do not develop after childhood.  This study makes it clear that adults can develop an allergy to meat due to larval tick bites.

When hiking in areas that may have ticks, wear clothing that protects you from tick hijacking.  If you discover a tick on your skin, remove it as soon as possible in a way that removes the head of the tick from your skin.

Clothing repellents that contain permethrin (eg Permanone) can greatly reduce, but not necessarily eliminate encounters with ticks.  Do not apply such repellents directly on your skin.

If you experience significant itching and redness around the bit, talk to your doctor about getting screened for an alpha-gal antibody.

There was a link to the original article used to research this one, but they have removed the page.  This link may be to the same article.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bob Bransford June 27, 2016 at 11:01

My daughter (17) just experienced her 4th severe anaphylactic reaction in the last 3 years and all 4 of them have been about an hour after she went to sleep. We’ve been to Mayo and countless Dr’s to try and figure out why this is happening only to have no answers. Obviously we go nowhere without an Epi-pen. It was determined she is allergic to tree nuts but hasn’t had any prior to any of the reactions. She ate tree nuts at Mayo to see if it would trigger a reaction and it did not. Any suggestions?? Please help.


2 Sara December 11, 2016 at 23:35


I am not sure if this will help. But when I started having anaphylaxis they did allergy testing. They found I was allergic to all legumes especially soy. However, I had eaten soy in between reactions with no problem. I had one anaphylaxis reaction in 2008, and then the didn’t come back until 2009 and I was in the hospital randomly. Maybe 9 times that year and for the next five years. Finally I figured it out on my own. (Since all my allergists said I wouldn’t ever figure it out since it seemed so random) but my reactions were in fact to soy. I could eat it once and feel fine, Then if I ate it again I would get a stomach ache, if I continued to eat it I would eventually have anaphylaxis. Soy was in everything!!!! So t was easy to get exposed and not realize. It was a build up that caused it. The allergists said that couldn’t happen, but that was my case. Just an idea. I hope you find it soon as that is just a nightmare to live with.


3 Allergy Guy December 14, 2016 at 20:27

Thanks for sharing that, Sara, very interesting. Unfortunately some doctors tend to assume their relatively simplistic model of medicine (I’m sure the model is complex, but nothing compared to reality) explains everything. They confuse the map with the territory. A good doctor will make notes on their map whenever reality shows an error in their map. Anyhow, glad you were able to figure it out.


4 Carolyn Waltz April 17, 2014 at 21:52

They have also more recently noted that people with the B blood antigen are not protected (I have this allergy, and my blood type is B.)


5 Stephanie April 17, 2014 at 14:30

I have the mammalian allergy and this is my third year. I am not allergic to dairy, thank God, it’s bad enough I can’t enjoy a steak or a BLT. I have my alpha gal tested every 6-12 months. It goes up and down depending if I get bit by a tick or not. My skin prick allergy test came out positive for beef, lamb and pork. My window of shock is 15 hours. My allergy was very hard to figure out until I found a Dr who was dealing with two other patients that have it. If you think you have the allergy, don’t eat meat from a mammal, do not eat out unless you know all the products they are serving have no beef, lamb or pork juice, gravies, additives, collegen or have been cooked in the same spot where those meats are cooked. Be safe, not sorry. Oh, even candy uses beef products. Read All Labels!


6 Tina April 18, 2014 at 17:24

You are more than welcome to join us at Alpha-Gal on face book. We are a growing group of almost 500 people from all over the world with AG. We share all kinds of things from things you didn’t know, wanted to know and really need to know. We are a very friendly helpful group of people.


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