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Officials Monitoring Reports of Red Meat Allergy-Inducing Ticks

Lone Star Tick - Adult Female - Partially Engorged
Griffin Dill

Officials in Maine are monitoring reports of people being bitten by a tick that can cause humans to develop a red meat allergy.

Griffin Dill, a pest management researcher at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, said the reports of the tick, known as the lone star tick, are "mostly anecdotal" and that they're trying to find out whether the tick is establishing a stable breeding population.

"We understand that it is established in parts of southern New England —Connecticut, Massachusetts — but we haven't been able to determine if there are breeding populations in Maine," he said.

Bangor Daily News reports there were 20 reported cases of a potentially life-threatening bacterial infection transmitted by the lone star tick in 2017, versus just four cases in 2016 and one case in 2015.

Lone star ticks are usually found in the southeast, but their range has recently included southern and coastal parts of Maine.

Dill called these cases "isolated" compared to the rest of Maine's tick population.

"If we start finding [the lone star tick] in all of its life stages, there's good indications it's breeding, but if it's an adult here or there, it may have arrived on migratory birds," he said.

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