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Meet the people leading those impacted by Alpha-Gal Syndrome, a food allergy to products made from mammals

Published: Mar. 7, 2022 at 5:27 AM EST
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NEW RIVER VALLEY, Va. (WDBJ) - A new type of food allergy has a team of patients and medical professionals working together to bring awareness to its symptoms.

It’s called Alpha-gal syndrome -- a newly identified type of food allergy to red meat and other products made from mammals.

In the United States, the condition is most often caused by a Lone Star tick bite. The bite transmits a sugar molecule called alpha-gal into the person’s body.

Dr. Scott Commins has been at the forefront of research of Alpha-Gal Syndrome. He sees patients in the UNC allergy clinic.

Dr. Commins works with patients such as Debbie and Candice, two friends navigating their lives with Alpha-Gal. Together, their goal is to be a resource and help those living with Alpha-Gal.

Dr. Commins says there are a number of symptoms of Alpha-Gal syndrome, but here are a few you should watch out for in case you have to get tested.

“Shortness of breath. Sometimes people will have changes in their blood pressure. So in an allergic reaction, often the blood pressure decreases significantly. And people may feel lightheaded. They may pass out, even. Some folks have cough and wheeze. But interestingly, we found that there’s a group of folks who just get gastrointestinal distress, so they may have really crampy abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, even vomiting,” said Dr. Scott Commins, UNC Allergy Clinic doctor and Alpha-Gal Syndrome expert.

The conversation about Alpha-Gal Syndrome will continue. Tuesday is International Women’s Day and we will meet Candice and Debbie, the two ladies leading the charge to bring awareness to Alpha-Gal in our hometowns.

To learn more about Two-Alpha Gals by visiting their website.

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