Parasite turning summertime fun into lifelong nightmare

Karan Farrell struggles with symptoms from a bite from the Lone Star tick/KTVO-Louis Finley

The Lone Star tick is the most common tick in the Heartland, and its bite can lead to lifelong health problems.

Karan Farrell, of Glenwood, Missouri, has become allergic to red meat and animal products because of the bite.

The tick is distinguishable by a dot on its back. Symptoms of the bite include rashes, fatigue, joint pain and food allergies.

In worst-case scenarios, a person can go into anaphylactic shock if they eat or touch meat.

"When a tick bites a human, the Alpha-gal sugar then reacts with a person, and that's when they actually start to develop an allergy to that antibody," said Scotland County Physician Dr. Heather Martin.

A breast cancer survivor, Farrell says this experience is worse.

"You would think that would be scary, but this is scarier to me," Farrell said.

Farrell said she had to buy new soaps, shampoos and toothpaste because of the use of animals commonly found in everyday products. She has also bought different pots and pans for she and her husband to cook on.

The worst part? A kiss from her husband. If residue from a meal is still on his lips, it can cause symptoms to flair.

Though this tick bite is the most common in the Heartland, Dr. Martin said a reaction like Farrell's is not as common.

"Just because you were bit by the Lone Star Tick doesn't necessarily mean you're going to get ill from it, but of course you have a higher chance than if you weren't," Dr. Martin said.

The only way to check if symptoms are from the tick bite is through having blood work at a doctor's office.

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