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Forget COVID – CDC Warns of Alpha-Gal Syndrome in Florida

guests wearing masks
Credit: Disney

A new life-threatening food allergy is being transmitted through the southern United States – including Florida.

cast members vaccine mask

Credit: Becky Burkett

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released new information regarding a serious health concern: alpha-gal syndrome. There has been an alarming rise in cases triggered by a tick bite in the southeastern part of United States.

RELATED: Bacon No Longer Available at EPCOT Food & Wine Festival

What is it?

Alpha-gal syndrome is a dangerous food allergy that can have life-threatening reactions when those infected consume meat or other animal products. It has been linked to the saliva of the lone star tick, otherwise known as the Amblyomma americanum, traditionally found in the warm-weathered southern states.

Polpettine

Credit: Enzo’s Hideaway

Once bitten by the lone star tick, an individual can develop an allergic reaction to alpha-gal – a type of sugar in meat and other products from animals. This would include red meat, pork, beef, rabbit, lamb, milk, and other dairy products.

Mickey Ice Cream Bar

Credit: Disney Dining

The reaction and symptoms of the disease can vary between individuals from mild, to severe, to deadly. It can lead to diarrhea, hives, stomach cramps, and shortness of breath. The CDC estimates that up to 450,000 Americans may have already developed meat allergies due to the alpha-gal syndrome.

What Can You Do About it?

As of now, there is no known cure or specific treatment. The best way to fight or prevent it (as many may not realize they are infected) is to avoid meats and other products containing alpha-gal.

cinderella castle at night magic kingdom walt disney world mickey mouse statute

Credit: Disney

If you are planning a trip to central Florida (or live in the area), it’s better to be safe than sorry. In all likelihood, it’s not worth canceling a Walt Disney World or Universal Studios planned trip. The lone star tick that can carry the allergy is not limited to the state of Florida, so you may be susceptible to it whether you visit the theme parks or not.

However, it is essential to be aware of the health issues if you live in or are visiting a state where the lone star tick may live. In addition it’s almost important to be mindful of the animal products you consume, especially if attending new eateries or events such as EPCOT’s Food and Wine Festival. Many in the medical community are unfamiliar with this particular illness and food allergy. According to the CDC, 42% of surveyed healthcare workers had not even heard of alpha-gal syndrome. It was first discovered in 2008 and has been on the rise in recent years. As always be careful when traveling and check with your doctor regarding any and all medical advice.

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About Steven Wilk

Steven has a complicated relationship with Disney. As a child, he visited Walt Disney World every few years with his family. But he never understood why kids his age (and older) were so scared of Snow White or Alien Encounter. He is a former participant of the Disney College Program (left early…long story), and he also previously worked in Children’s publishing, where he adapted multiple Disney movies and TV shows. He has many controversial opinions about Disney…like having a positive view of Michael Eisner, believing Return of the Jedi is superior to The Empire Strikes Back, and that Toy Story Land and Galaxy’s Edge should have never been built (at least not at Hollywood Studios). Every year for the past two decades, Steven has visited either Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Aulani or went on a Disney Cruise. He’s happy to share any and all knowledge of the Disney destinations (and he likes using parenthesis a lot…as well as ellipses…)