A 28-year-old man now suffers from a rare condition that has left him housebound after he claims tick bites gave him a life-threatening allergy to red meat and left him helplessly lying on his bathroom floor.
Christopher Goldman was bitten by the parasite in December 2022 in the woods in Woking, Surrey, and has since been bitten at least four times. Ticks are tiny spider-like creatures, which feed on the blood of animals and sometimes people.
After the bites, he suffered from severe fainting episodes. Mr Goldman explained: “I woke up with intense itching and I was very hot. My skin was crimson red and I had hives all over my body. I noticed a strange sensation in my hands, my face, and my tongue began to swell. As my throat began to constrict I stood up and felt a ‘wash’ down to my feet.”
He fainted in his bathroom and when he woke, he was unable to cry for help and was “helpless and terrified”.
He added: “I just spent the time looking up at the ceiling, just waiting to either die or see what happened to me. It was definitely the most traumatic experience ever.”
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The full-time business production manager had eaten red meat a few hours before he fainted and believed that might have been the trigger.
A private blood test confirmed his tick bites had developed into alpha-gal syndrome (AGS). He now has to carry an epi-pen at all times, wears an emergency contact bracelet, and stays at home as much as possible.
The condition, AGS, is caused when a person is bitten by a tick that carries the alpha-gal molecule in its saliva, which, when in the bloodstream, causes the immune system to make antibodies causing a reaction to red meat.
However, the illness is rare and only a few cases have been reported in the UK. There is also no scientific evidence to support Christopher’s belief of the risks of airborne transmission.
The Surrey resident wants to raise awareness about the condition and said: “Doctors are telling people that it is psychosomatic, that it is anxiety or stress-induced, and they’re not getting help.”
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The chance bite has had devastating consequences for Christopher who is now housebound because of his allergy. He now only wears vegan-approved clothing and uses household products that are guaranteed to be animal free.
He also has to be extremely careful of everything he eats and this includes medicines too.
AGS reactions can include: Hives, nausea, heartburn, diarrhoea, a drop in blood pressure, swelling of the lips and throat, and dizziness.
A blood test can confirm the diagnosis and evidence suggests it is primarily caused by a bite by a tick. You can find a list of symptoms and an explanation about the condition here.
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