Tag Archives: need

Need a wheelchair? Pay for it yourself

“I feel like a prisoner who every now and again is let out on day release,” Kelly Palmer, 38, says from her home in Newport, south Wales.

Palmer has Marfan Syndrome – a genetic condition that affects ligaments and organs – as well as fibromyalgia and needs a power wheelchair full-time. But when she approached her GP to apply for a chair after her health deteriorated, she was told she wasn’t eligible. Even though her disability means she can’t propel a manual wheelchair, she didn’t meet the threshold to qualify for a power chair. “There was no help,” she says. “It was just ‘goodbye’.”

As there’s no one else at home to help, for the last 18 months Palmer is largely stuck in the house and she only goes out once every three weeks or so, usually for hospital appointments and only if a friend can drive her there and stay to push the chair.

Desperate, Palmer has turned to the internet and launched a crowdfunding appeal online to try and raise the £5,000 she needs for a suitable power chair. She got the idea from some friends who had done the same to raise money for their own wheelchairs but says pride means she’s been “putting it off” as a last resort. “I didn’t want to have to beg,” she says. “But I didn’t have the choice.”

Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people. The most popular way of doing this is through a number of crowdfunding websites, such as Kickstarter and JustGiving, which allows people to raise money for their own personal cause, a person in need, clubs, schools and communities through online appeals.

Palmer is by no means an isolated case. As the country celebrates paralympians at the World Para Athletics Championships in London this month, growing numbers of disabled people are unable to get the wheelchair they need on the NHS and are being forced to turn to the public. The amount of money raised for wheelchairs on JustGiving increased fourfold between 2015 and 2016, from £365,000 to £1.8m, according to exclusive figures seen by The Guardian. While some of that increase is likely to be down to better awareness of the site, it’s a trend that is continuing. From January to July 2017, there has been a 59% increase in donations to disabled people asking for help to fund a wheelchair compared with the same period last year.

“JustGiving is often where people come when they have nowhere else to turn,” explains Rhys Goode, public relations director at JustGiving. “It’s remarkable to see the increase in people having to crowdfund for new wheelchairs – an item that’s so essential to their quality of life.”

Disability charity Scope says it gets regular calls from disabled people experiencing difficulties with funding for wheelchairs. Jean Merrilees, a helpline adviser at Scope, says: “With wheelchairs sometimes costing in excess of £10,000 we need to see the funding pressures the NHS is facing addressed, so disabled people can access specialist equipment that supports independent living, rather than many continuing having to bear the brunt of these costs themselves.”

Whizz-Kidz, a charity that provides wheelchairs for young people, states that many disabled children are not being provided with a suitable chair by their local NHS wheelchair service.

Last month, medics at the British Medical Association’s (BMA) annual meeting unanimously passed a motion calling for wheelchair users to have “timely access to chairs suitable for their individual conditions”, after warnings that cuts in services, a postcode lottery of availability and delays means that disabled patients are increasingly struggling to get their wheelchairs on the NHS.

Hannah Barham-Brown, the junior doctor who triggered the motion at the BMA, had to turn to crowdfunding herself two years ago to buy her own chair. “When I tell people I had to crowdfund for a wheelchair, they are gobsmacked,” she says. Barham-Brown, 29, was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) in 2015 during medical school. “I kept dislocating my knees,” she says. Within six months, she needed a wheelchair. But after going to her GP, she was told NHS wheelchair services would only offer her a heavyweight basic wheelchair or a £140 voucher towards another. Neither option was viable: Barham-Brown’s condition means a manual chair would dislocate her joints when she tried to push herself along and a suitable wheelchair would cost upwards of £2,000, money she didn’t have.

Barham-Brown had what she described as a meltdown. “Without a chair, I knew I wouldn’t be able to do this job I’d trained so hard for. I wouldn’t be able to be a doctor,” she says. In panic, a friend from medical school put up a crowdfunding page to ask the public for help. Within 24 hours, they’d raised £2,000 – enough for the wheelchair. It enabled Barham-Brown to continue her training in south London but she says it’s “mindblowing” that disabled adults and children are being forced to resort to asking strangers for help online.

“It’s the basic tenet of the NHS: you have a need and it’s met. But it isn’t,” she says. “People are housebound and trapped in their homes. Yet nothing is being done.”

Local GP-led clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are ultimately responsible for securing and funding wheelchair services. A spokesperson for NHS England says it is working with the National Wheelchair Leadership Alliance – a group set up by Paralympian and crossbench peer Tanni Grey Thompson in 2015 to look at provision of wheelchairs through the NHS “to develop best practice standards as well as introducing personal wheelchair budgets to give people more choice on the best wheelchair for them”.

During 2017-18 all CCGs in England are replacing the existing wheelchair voucher scheme with personal wheelchair budgets, in which people are told upfront how much money is available for their wheelchair, based on an assessment of their individual needs and goals. A new national data collection has also been established which, for the first time, aims to centrally gather information on the quality of wheelchair services across England, including waiting times.

“The national data collection is a massive step forward in terms of understanding the needs of wheelchair users and what equipment is, and can be, provided,” explains Grey-Thompson. “However, in reality, it’s going to take some time for the information to be universally gathered and useful across the whole of England. This should be of a high priority in order to be able to provide the right equipment.”

The issue of wheelchair provision is likely to become increasingly pressing. In addition to wider NHS funding pressures, other limited avenues for wheelchair funding are being massively cut, including Access to Work – a fund delivered through Jobcentre Plus that pays for practical support for disabled people at work – and the motability scheme, which people can be awarded if they qualify for the higher rate of personal independence payments.

In Wales, where Palmer lives, wheelchair provision is commissioned on behalf of the country’s health boards by the Welsh health specialised service committee. A Welsh government spokesman says: “The provision is based and provided on clinical need. We believe Wales makes available the widest specification range of wheelchairs to meet patients’ needs in the UK.”

This is little comfort back in Newport. Palmer’s crowdfunding page has so far raised £1,500 of her £5,000 target. She says she is “beyond touched” by the public helping her – some give a pound because it’s all they have – but the stress of the prolonged process is damaging her mental health. She has no way of knowing if she’ll reach her target for her wheelchair or what she’ll do if she can’t.

“I should be able to go to the NHS and get help,” she says. “I shouldn’t have to wait months [through crowdfunding] to see if someone cares.”

Need a wheelchair? Pay for it yourself

“I feel like a prisoner who every now and again is let out on day release,” Kelly Palmer, 38, says from her home in Newport, south Wales.

Palmer has Marfan Syndrome – a genetic condition that affects ligaments and organs – as well as fibromyalgia and needs a power wheelchair full-time. But when she approached her GP to apply for a chair after her health deteriorated, she was told she wasn’t eligible. Even though her disability means she can’t propel a manual wheelchair, she didn’t meet the threshold to qualify for a power chair. “There was no help,” she says. “It was just ‘goodbye’.”

As there’s no one else at home to help, for the last 18 months Palmer is largely stuck in the house and she only goes out once every three weeks or so, usually for hospital appointments and only if a friend can drive her there and stay to push the chair.

Desperate, Palmer has turned to the internet and launched a crowdfunding appeal online to try and raise the £5,000 she needs for a suitable power chair. She got the idea from some friends who had done the same to raise money for their own wheelchairs but says pride means she’s been “putting it off” as a last resort. “I didn’t want to have to beg,” she says. “But I didn’t have the choice.”

Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people. The most popular way of doing this is through a number of crowdfunding websites, such as Kickstarter and JustGiving, which allows people to raise money for their own personal cause, a person in need, clubs, schools and communities through online appeals.

Palmer is by no means an isolated case. As the country celebrates paralympians at the World Para Athletics Championships in London this month, growing numbers of disabled people are unable to get the wheelchair they need on the NHS and are being forced to turn to the public. The amount of money raised for wheelchairs on JustGiving increased fourfold between 2015 and 2016, from £365,000 to £1.8m, according to exclusive figures seen by The Guardian. While some of that increase is likely to be down to better awareness of the site, it’s a trend that is continuing. From January to July 2017, there has been a 59% increase in donations to disabled people asking for help to fund a wheelchair compared with the same period last year.

“JustGiving is often where people come when they have nowhere else to turn,” explains Rhys Goode, public relations director at JustGiving. “It’s remarkable to see the increase in people having to crowdfund for new wheelchairs – an item that’s so essential to their quality of life.”

Disability charity Scope says it gets regular calls from disabled people experiencing difficulties with funding for wheelchairs. Jean Merrilees, a helpline adviser at Scope, says: “With wheelchairs sometimes costing in excess of £10,000 we need to see the funding pressures the NHS is facing addressed, so disabled people can access specialist equipment that supports independent living, rather than many continuing having to bear the brunt of these costs themselves.”

Whizz-Kidz, a charity that provides wheelchairs for young people, states that many disabled children are not being provided with a suitable chair by their local NHS wheelchair service.

Last month, medics at the British Medical Association’s (BMA) annual meeting unanimously passed a motion calling for wheelchair users to have “timely access to chairs suitable for their individual conditions”, after warnings that cuts in services, a postcode lottery of availability and delays means that disabled patients are increasingly struggling to get their wheelchairs on the NHS.

Hannah Barham-Brown, the junior doctor who triggered the motion at the BMA, had to turn to crowdfunding herself two years ago to buy her own chair. “When I tell people I had to crowdfund for a wheelchair, they are gobsmacked,” she says. Barham-Brown, 29, was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) in 2015 during medical school. “I kept dislocating my knees,” she says. Within six months, she needed a wheelchair. But after going to her GP, she was told NHS wheelchair services would only offer her a heavyweight basic wheelchair or a £140 voucher towards another. Neither option was viable: Barham-Brown’s condition means a manual chair would dislocate her joints when she tried to push herself along and a suitable wheelchair would cost upwards of £2,000, money she didn’t have.

Barham-Brown had what she described as a meltdown. “Without a chair, I knew I wouldn’t be able to do this job I’d trained so hard for. I wouldn’t be able to be a doctor,” she says. In panic, a friend from medical school put up a crowdfunding page to ask the public for help. Within 24 hours, they’d raised £2,000 – enough for the wheelchair. It enabled Barham-Brown to continue her training in south London but she says it’s “mindblowing” that disabled adults and children are being forced to resort to asking strangers for help online.

“It’s the basic tenet of the NHS: you have a need and it’s met. But it isn’t,” she says. “People are housebound and trapped in their homes. Yet nothing is being done.”

Local GP-led clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are ultimately responsible for securing and funding wheelchair services. A spokesperson for NHS England says it is working with the National Wheelchair Leadership Alliance – a group set up by Paralympian and crossbench peer Tanni Grey Thompson in 2015 to look at provision of wheelchairs through the NHS “to develop best practice standards as well as introducing personal wheelchair budgets to give people more choice on the best wheelchair for them”.

During 2017-18 all CCGs in England are replacing the existing wheelchair voucher scheme with personal wheelchair budgets, in which people are told upfront how much money is available for their wheelchair, based on an assessment of their individual needs and goals. A new national data collection has also been established which, for the first time, aims to centrally gather information on the quality of wheelchair services across England, including waiting times.

“The national data collection is a massive step forward in terms of understanding the needs of wheelchair users and what equipment is, and can be, provided,” explains Grey-Thompson. “However, in reality, it’s going to take some time for the information to be universally gathered and useful across the whole of England. This should be of a high priority in order to be able to provide the right equipment.”

The issue of wheelchair provision is likely to become increasingly pressing. In addition to wider NHS funding pressures, other limited avenues for wheelchair funding are being massively cut, including Access to Work – a fund delivered through Jobcentre Plus that pays for practical support for disabled people at work – and the motability scheme, which people can be awarded if they qualify for the higher rate of personal independence payments.

In Wales, where Palmer lives, wheelchair provision is commissioned on behalf of the country’s health boards by the Welsh health specialised service committee. A Welsh government spokesman says: “The provision is based and provided on clinical need. We believe Wales makes available the widest specification range of wheelchairs to meet patients’ needs in the UK.”

This is little comfort back in Newport. Palmer’s crowdfunding page has so far raised £1,500 of her £5,000 target. She says she is “beyond touched” by the public helping her – some give a pound because it’s all they have – but the stress of the prolonged process is damaging her mental health. She has no way of knowing if she’ll reach her target for her wheelchair or what she’ll do if she can’t.

“I should be able to go to the NHS and get help,” she says. “I shouldn’t have to wait months [through crowdfunding] to see if someone cares.”

The Guardian view on patient data: we need a better approach | Editorial

Any fair-minded assessment of the dangers of the deal between the NHS and DeepMind must start by acknowledging that both sides mean well. DeepMind, owned by Google’s owners, is one of the leading artificial intelligence outfits in the world. The potential of this work applied to healthcare is very great. But it could also lead to further concentration of power in the tech giants. It is against that background that the information commissioner, Dame Elizabeth Denham, has issued her damning verdict against the Royal Free hospital trust, which handed over to DeepMind the records of 1.6 million patients in 2015 on the basis of a vague agreement which took far too little account of the patients’ rights and their expectations of privacy.

DeepMind has almost apologised. The trust has mended its ways. Further arrangements – and there may be many – between the NHS and DeepMind will be carefully scrutinised to ensure that all necessary permissions have been asked of patients and all unnecessary data has been sanitised. There are lessons about informed patient consent to learn. But privacy is not the only angle in this case and not even the most important. Dame Elizabeth chose to concentrate the blame on the NHS trust, since under existing law it “controlled” the data and DeepMind merely “processed” it. But this distinction misses the point that it is processing and aggregation, not the mere possession of bits, that gives the data value.

The great question is who should benefit from the analysis of all the data that our lives now generate. Privacy law builds on the concept of damage to an individual from identifiable knowledge about them. That misses the way the surveillance economy works. The data of an individual there gains its value only when it is compared with the data of countless millions more.

The use of privacy law to curb the tech giants in this instance, or of competition law in the case of the EU’s dispute with Google, both feel slightly maladapted. They do not address the real worry. It is not enough to say that the algorithms DeepMind develops will benefit patients and save lives. What matters is that they will belong to a private monopoly which developed them using public resources. If software promises to save lives on the scale that drugs now can, big data may be expected to behave as big pharma has done. We are still at the beginning of this revolution and small choices now may turn out to have gigantic consequences later. A long struggle will be needed to avoid a future of digital feudalism. Dame Elizabeth’s report is a welcome start.

The Guardian view on patient data: we need a better approach | Editorial

Any fair-minded assessment of the dangers of the deal between the NHS and DeepMind must start by acknowledging that both sides mean well. DeepMind, owned by Google’s owners, is one of the leading artificial intelligence outfits in the world. The potential of this work applied to healthcare is very great. But it could also lead to further concentration of power in the tech giants. It is against that background that the information commissioner, Dame Elizabeth Denham, has issued her damning verdict against the Royal Free hospital trust, which handed over to DeepMind the records of 1.6 million patients in 2015 on the basis of a vague agreement which took far too little account of the patients’ rights and their expectations of privacy.

DeepMind has almost apologised. The trust has mended its ways. Further arrangements – and there may be many – between the NHS and DeepMind will be carefully scrutinised to ensure that all necessary permissions have been asked of patients and all unnecessary data has been sanitised. There are lessons about informed patient consent to learn. But privacy is not the only angle in this case and not even the most important. Dame Elizabeth chose to concentrate the blame on the NHS trust, since under existing law it “controlled” the data and DeepMind merely “processed” it. But this distinction misses the point that it is processing and aggregation, not the mere possession of bits, that gives the data value.

The great question is who should benefit from the analysis of all the data that our lives now generate. Privacy law builds on the concept of damage to an individual from identifiable knowledge about them. That misses the way the surveillance economy works. The data of an individual there gains its value only when it is compared with the data of countless millions more.

The use of privacy law to curb the tech giants in this instance, or of competition law in the case of the EU’s dispute with Google, both feel slightly maladapted. They do not address the real worry. It is not enough to say that the algorithms DeepMind develops will benefit patients and save lives. What matters is that they will belong to a private monopoly which developed them using public resources. If software promises to save lives on the scale that drugs now can, big data may be expected to behave as big pharma has done. We are still at the beginning of this revolution and small choices now may turn out to have gigantic consequences later. A long struggle will be needed to avoid a future of digital feudalism. Dame Elizabeth’s report is a welcome start.

The Guardian view on patient data: we need a better approach | Editorial

Any fair-minded assessment of the dangers of the deal between the NHS and DeepMind must start by acknowledging that both sides mean well. DeepMind, owned by Google’s owners, is one of the leading artificial intelligence outfits in the world. The potential of this work applied to healthcare is very great. But it could also lead to further concentration of power in the tech giants. It is against that background that the information commissioner, Dame Elizabeth Denham, has issued her damning verdict against the Royal Free hospital trust, which handed over to DeepMind the records of 1.6 million patients in 2015 on the basis of a vague agreement which took far too little account of the patients’ rights and their expectations of privacy.

DeepMind has almost apologised. The trust has mended its ways. Further arrangements – and there may be many – between the NHS and DeepMind will be carefully scrutinised to ensure that all necessary permissions have been asked of patients and all unnecessary data has been sanitised. There are lessons about informed patient consent to learn. But privacy is not the only angle in this case and not even the most important. Dame Elizabeth chose to concentrate the blame on the NHS trust, since under existing law it “controlled” the data and DeepMind merely “processed” it. But this distinction misses the point that it is processing and aggregation, not the mere possession of bits, that gives the data value.

The great question is who should benefit from the analysis of all the data that our lives now generate. Privacy law builds on the concept of damage to an individual from identifiable knowledge about them. That misses the way the surveillance economy works. The data of an individual there gains its value only when it is compared with the data of countless millions more.

The use of privacy law to curb the tech giants in this instance, or of competition law in the case of the EU’s dispute with Google, both feel slightly maladapted. They do not address the real worry. It is not enough to say that the algorithms DeepMind develops will benefit patients and save lives. What matters is that they will belong to a private monopoly which developed them using public resources. If software promises to save lives on the scale that drugs now can, big data may be expected to behave as big pharma has done. We are still at the beginning of this revolution and small choices now may turn out to have gigantic consequences later. A long struggle will be needed to avoid a future of digital feudalism. Dame Elizabeth’s report is a welcome start.

The Guardian view on patient data: we need a better approach | Editorial

Any fair-minded assessment of the dangers of the deal between the NHS and DeepMind must start by acknowledging that both sides mean well. DeepMind, owned by Google’s owners, is one of the leading artificial intelligence outfits in the world. The potential of this work applied to healthcare is very great. But it could also lead to further concentration of power in the tech giants. It is against that background that the information commissioner, Dame Elizabeth Denham, has issued her damning verdict against the Royal Free hospital trust, which handed over to DeepMind the records of 1.6 million patients in 2015 on the basis of a vague agreement which took far too little account of the patients’ rights and their expectations of privacy.

DeepMind has almost apologised. The trust has mended its ways. Further arrangements – and there may be many – between the NHS and DeepMind will be carefully scrutinised to ensure that all necessary permissions have been asked of patients and all unnecessary data has been sanitised. There are lessons about informed patient consent to learn. But privacy is not the only angle in this case and not even the most important. Dame Elizabeth chose to concentrate the blame on the NHS trust, since under existing law it “controlled” the data and DeepMind merely “processed” it. But this distinction misses the point that it is processing and aggregation, not the mere possession of bits, that gives the data value.

The great question is who should benefit from the analysis of all the data that our lives now generate. Privacy law builds on the concept of damage to an individual from identifiable knowledge about them. That misses the way the surveillance economy works. The data of an individual there gains its value only when it is compared with the data of countless millions more.

The use of privacy law to curb the tech giants in this instance, or of competition law in the case of the EU’s dispute with Google, both feel slightly maladapted. They do not address the real worry. It is not enough to say that the algorithms DeepMind develops will benefit patients and save lives. What matters is that they will belong to a private monopoly which developed them using public resources. If software promises to save lives on the scale that drugs now can, big data may be expected to behave as big pharma has done. We are still at the beginning of this revolution and small choices now may turn out to have gigantic consequences later. A long struggle will be needed to avoid a future of digital feudalism. Dame Elizabeth’s report is a welcome start.

What You Need to Know About the Lone Star Tick, Which Is Giving People Red Meat Allergies

You already know that ticks pose a threat your health; these bugs, which thrive in the summer, can transmit Lyme disease, Powassan disease, and even a rare condition called tick paralysis.

If those illnesses aren’t enough to worry about, experts are sounding the alarm about another tick-borne condition that appears to be on the rise. A bite from the lone star tick has been leaving victims with a potentially dangerous allergy to red meat and sometimes even dairy products.

RELATED: Bug Bites: How to Prevent and Treat

Never heard of the lone star tick? Once mostly confined to the southeastern United States, it’s been stretching its boundaries over the last couple of decades, increasing in numbers and showing up from Maine to central Texas and Oklahoma, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Along with that red meat allergy, this tick can also carry the bacteria that can cause monocytic ehrlichiosis (a rare infectious disease), Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and STARI, a rash that can be mistaken for Lyme disease, reports the University of Rhode Island’s TickEncounter Resource Center.

But it’s the risk of an allergy to bacon and burgers that has people most on edge right now. Here’s how it happens: just like other ticks, the lone star tick likes to feed on mammal blood, like deer and cow, explains Cosby Stone, MD, MPH, a clinical research fellow in allergy and immunology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. When a ticks bites one of these animals, the tick can pick up a sugar called alpha-gal.

Then, the tick bites a human. The bite itself as well as the alpha-gal that is transmitted to the human host triggers a person’s immune system to make antibodies. “Because you don’t make this sugar in your body, it’s recognized as something foreign and you can become allergic to it,” Dr. Stone says. The result: an alpha-gal allergy.

Unfortunately, alpha-gal sugar is in a lot of foods and dishes you may eat all the time, like red meat, dairy, and gelatin. Once you have this allergy, your barbecue days might be over. You’ll react when you eat a steak, and a small cohort of victims will even react when they drink a glass of milk. For some people, gelatin in medications causes those antibodies to kick in and cause distress. “This can create a lot of trouble for people,” adds Dr. Stone. 

RELATED: Beat 16 Summer Health Hazards

The allergy might take months to develop after the tick bite. Yet typically it starts to present itself soon after you eat red meat. The signs are often hard to ignore and potentially serious: hives, shortness of breath, diarrhea, swelling of the face and hands, and/or low blood pressure. “There are plenty of stories where patients eat a burger at 6 p.m. and then wake up with anaphylactic shock at midnight,” says Dr. Stone. If that happens, seek medical attention ASAP.

Though the lone start tick seems to have hit the headlines out of the blue, experts have been noticing a rise in allergic reactions over the last decade. Tick-borne illnesses in general appear to be increasing; the National Pest Association stated that 2017 might be the worst season yet for ticks, due in part to mild winter conditions that allowed ticks to thrive.

To get our best wellness tips delivered to you inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter

As with all ticks, the advice remains the same when it comes to protecting yourself. Use a permethrin-based repellent on clothes, wear long pants when you’re out hiking or working in the yard (and tuck those socks in), and do a tick check on yourself, your kids, and dogs when you go back inside. If you spot one, remove it with tweezers ASAP and be alert for any kind of symptoms, from a rash to fever to fatigue or weakness.

What You Need to Know About the Lone Star Tick, Which Is Giving People Red Meat Allergies

You already know that ticks pose a threat your health; these bugs, which thrive in the summer, can transmit Lyme disease, Powassan disease, and even a rare condition called tick paralysis.

If those illnesses aren’t enough to worry about, experts are sounding the alarm about another tick-borne condition that appears to be on the rise. A bite from the lone star tick has been leaving victims with a potentially dangerous allergy to red meat and sometimes even dairy products.

RELATED: Bug Bites: How to Prevent and Treat

Never heard of the lone star tick? Once mostly confined to the southeastern United States, it’s been stretching its boundaries over the last couple of decades, increasing in numbers and showing up from Maine to central Texas and Oklahoma, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Along with that red meat allergy, this tick can also carry the bacteria that can cause monocytic ehrlichiosis (a rare infectious disease), Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and STARI, a rash that can be mistaken for Lyme disease, reports the University of Rhode Island’s TickEncounter Resource Center.

But it’s the risk of an allergy to bacon and burgers that has people most on edge right now. Here’s how it happens: just like other ticks, the lone star tick likes to feed on mammal blood, like deer and cow, explains Cosby Stone, MD, MPH, a clinical research fellow in allergy and immunology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. When a ticks bites one of these animals, the tick can pick up a sugar called alpha-gal.

Then, the tick bites a human. The bite itself as well as the alpha-gal that is transmitted to the human host triggers a person’s immune system to make antibodies. “Because you don’t make this sugar in your body, it’s recognized as something foreign and you can become allergic to it,” Dr. Stone says. The result: an alpha-gal allergy.

Unfortunately, alpha-gal sugar is in a lot of foods and dishes you may eat all the time, like red meat, dairy, and gelatin. Once you have this allergy, your barbecue days might be over. You’ll react when you eat a steak, and a small cohort of victims will even react when they drink a glass of milk. For some people, gelatin in medications causes those antibodies to kick in and cause distress. “This can create a lot of trouble for people,” adds Dr. Stone. 

RELATED: Beat 16 Summer Health Hazards

The allergy might take months to develop after the tick bite. Yet typically it starts to present itself soon after you eat red meat. The signs are often hard to ignore and potentially serious: hives, shortness of breath, diarrhea, swelling of the face and hands, and/or low blood pressure. “There are plenty of stories where patients eat a burger at 6 p.m. and then wake up with anaphylactic shock at midnight,” says Dr. Stone. If that happens, seek medical attention ASAP.

Though the lone start tick seems to have hit the headlines out of the blue, experts have been noticing a rise in allergic reactions over the last decade. Tick-borne illnesses in general appear to be increasing; the National Pest Association stated that 2017 might be the worst season yet for ticks, due in part to mild winter conditions that allowed ticks to thrive.

To get our best wellness tips delivered to you inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter

As with all ticks, the advice remains the same when it comes to protecting yourself. Use a permethrin-based repellent on clothes, wear long pants when you’re out hiking or working in the yard (and tuck those socks in), and do a tick check on yourself, your kids, and dogs when you go back inside. If you spot one, remove it with tweezers ASAP and be alert for any kind of symptoms, from a rash to fever to fatigue or weakness.

What You Need to Know About the Lone Star Tick, Which Is Giving People Red Meat Allergies

You already know that ticks pose a threat your health; these bugs, which thrive in the summer, can transmit Lyme disease, Powassan disease, and even a rare condition called tick paralysis.

If those illnesses aren’t enough to worry about, experts are sounding the alarm about another tick-borne condition that appears to be on the rise. A bite from the lone star tick has been leaving victims with a potentially dangerous allergy to red meat and sometimes even dairy products.

RELATED: Bug Bites: How to Prevent and Treat

Never heard of the lone star tick? Once mostly confined to the southeastern United States, it’s been stretching its boundaries over the last couple of decades, increasing in numbers and showing up from Maine to central Texas and Oklahoma, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Along with that red meat allergy, this tick can also carry the bacteria that can cause monocytic ehrlichiosis (a rare infectious disease), Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and STARI, a rash that can be mistaken for Lyme disease, reports the University of Rhode Island’s TickEncounter Resource Center.

But it’s the risk of an allergy to bacon and burgers that has people most on edge right now. Here’s how it happens: just like other ticks, the lone star tick likes to feed on mammal blood, like deer and cow, explains Cosby Stone, MD, MPH, a clinical research fellow in allergy and immunology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. When a ticks bites one of these animals, the tick can pick up a sugar called alpha-gal.

Then, the tick bites a human. The bite itself as well as the alpha-gal that is transmitted to the human host triggers a person’s immune system to make antibodies. “Because you don’t make this sugar in your body, it’s recognized as something foreign and you can become allergic to it,” Dr. Stone says. The result: an alpha-gal allergy.

Unfortunately, alpha-gal sugar is in a lot of foods and dishes you may eat all the time, like red meat, dairy, and gelatin. Once you have this allergy, your barbecue days might be over. You’ll react when you eat a steak, and a small cohort of victims will even react when they drink a glass of milk. For some people, gelatin in medications causes those antibodies to kick in and cause distress. “This can create a lot of trouble for people,” adds Dr. Stone. 

RELATED: Beat 16 Summer Health Hazards

The allergy might take months to develop after the tick bite. Yet typically it starts to present itself soon after you eat red meat. The signs are often hard to ignore and potentially serious: hives, shortness of breath, diarrhea, swelling of the face and hands, and/or low blood pressure. “There are plenty of stories where patients eat a burger at 6 p.m. and then wake up with anaphylactic shock at midnight,” says Dr. Stone. If that happens, seek medical attention ASAP.

Though the lone start tick seems to have hit the headlines out of the blue, experts have been noticing a rise in allergic reactions over the last decade. Tick-borne illnesses in general appear to be increasing; the National Pest Association stated that 2017 might be the worst season yet for ticks, due in part to mild winter conditions that allowed ticks to thrive.

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As with all ticks, the advice remains the same when it comes to protecting yourself. Use a permethrin-based repellent on clothes, wear long pants when you’re out hiking or working in the yard (and tuck those socks in), and do a tick check on yourself, your kids, and dogs when you go back inside. If you spot one, remove it with tweezers ASAP and be alert for any kind of symptoms, from a rash to fever to fatigue or weakness.

What You Need to Know About the Lone Star Tick, Which Is Giving People Red Meat Allergies

You already know that ticks pose a threat your health; these bugs, which thrive in the summer, can transmit Lyme disease, Powassan disease, and even a rare condition called tick paralysis.

If those illnesses aren’t enough to worry about, experts are sounding the alarm about another tick-borne condition that appears to be on the rise. A bite from the lone star tick has been leaving victims with a potentially dangerous allergy to red meat and sometimes even dairy products.

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Never heard of the lone star tick? Once mostly confined to the southeastern United States, it’s been stretching its boundaries over the last couple of decades, increasing in numbers and showing up from Maine to central Texas and Oklahoma, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Along with that red meat allergy, this tick can also carry the bacteria that can cause monocytic ehrlichiosis (a rare infectious disease), Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and STARI, a rash that can be mistaken for Lyme disease, reports the University of Rhode Island’s TickEncounter Resource Center.

But it’s the risk of an allergy to bacon and burgers that has people most on edge right now. Here’s how it happens: just like other ticks, the lone star tick likes to feed on mammal blood, like deer and cow, explains Cosby Stone, MD, MPH, a clinical research fellow in allergy and immunology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. When a ticks bites one of these animals, the tick can pick up a sugar called alpha-gal.

Then, the tick bites a human. The bite itself as well as the alpha-gal that is transmitted to the human host triggers a person’s immune system to make antibodies. “Because you don’t make this sugar in your body, it’s recognized as something foreign and you can become allergic to it,” Dr. Stone says. The result: an alpha-gal allergy.

Unfortunately, alpha-gal sugar is in a lot of foods and dishes you may eat all the time, like red meat, dairy, and gelatin. Once you have this allergy, your barbecue days might be over. You’ll react when you eat a steak, and a small cohort of victims will even react when they drink a glass of milk. For some people, gelatin in medications causes those antibodies to kick in and cause distress. “This can create a lot of trouble for people,” adds Dr. Stone. 

RELATED: Beat 16 Summer Health Hazards

The allergy might take months to develop after the tick bite. Yet typically it starts to present itself soon after you eat red meat. The signs are often hard to ignore and potentially serious: hives, shortness of breath, diarrhea, swelling of the face and hands, and/or low blood pressure. “There are plenty of stories where patients eat a burger at 6 p.m. and then wake up with anaphylactic shock at midnight,” says Dr. Stone. If that happens, seek medical attention ASAP.

Though the lone start tick seems to have hit the headlines out of the blue, experts have been noticing a rise in allergic reactions over the last decade. Tick-borne illnesses in general appear to be increasing; the National Pest Association stated that 2017 might be the worst season yet for ticks, due in part to mild winter conditions that allowed ticks to thrive.

To get our best wellness tips delivered to you inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter

As with all ticks, the advice remains the same when it comes to protecting yourself. Use a permethrin-based repellent on clothes, wear long pants when you’re out hiking or working in the yard (and tuck those socks in), and do a tick check on yourself, your kids, and dogs when you go back inside. If you spot one, remove it with tweezers ASAP and be alert for any kind of symptoms, from a rash to fever to fatigue or weakness.