Mammalian meat allergy or MMA is an allergy to meat, and sometimes also to other animal products such as dairy and gelatine, caused by being sensitised earlier by tick bites. Australia has the highest prevalence of MMA in the world.
A recent ABC article states “The tick which can cause so much harm is the Australian paralysis tick, or Ixodes holocyclus. It is found across the east coast of Australia, from Melbourne to Cape York, overlapping with where the majority of the Australian population lives, according to Stephen Doggett, director of medical entomology for New South Wales Health Pathology.” Read the full article here.
The allergic reactions to mammalian meat (including but not limited to beef, pork, lamb, kangaroo, goat and venison) can range from mild to life-threatening.
Printable/downloadable versions of food allergen cards are available from Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (A&AA).
The best way to protect yourself is prevention. Some simple measures to reduce the risk of tick bites include the following:
- Wear appropriate clothing when outdoors in tick areas including long sleeved shirts, long pants tucked into socks and a wide brimmed hat. Ticks are more easily detected on light coloured clothing.
- Spray clothes and hats with an insect repellent and wear a repellent that contains DEET or Picaridin.
- When walking through tick-infested areas try to keep to the centre of cleared paths as much as possible and try to avoid brushing up against plants and grasses as you walk.
- When returning from an area known to have ticks, remove clothing and search for ticks, especially behind the ears, on the back of the head, groin, armpits and back of knees. Be careful where clothes are placed as they may introduce ticks inside the house. Don’t forget to check children and pets.
The correct method of removing ticks is aso important to understand. If a tick is removed correctly, the likelihood of someone developing mammalian meat allergy is very small according to A&AA.
Visit the Australian Government Health website for information on the Management of tick bites in Australia.
Videos on prevention and removal are also avasilable by visiting the ascia (Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy) website.