Vegetarians and cannibals don’t have so much to worry about, but devourers of non-primate meat, take note. Along with warmer climes, a new kind of tick is sweeping north through the New England states: the Lone Star tick. (Its proper name is Amblyomma americanum.)
Its bite can cause a person to develop an allergy to red meat such as beef, pork or venison. I’ve heard that has some vegans guiltily chortling.
The allergy can start out as a rash that appears three to six hours after eating, but it can progress to possibly life-threatening anaphylaxis. Symptoms may include swelling of the throat, trouble breathing, dizziness or fainting, and stomach pain, vomiting or diarrhea.
It sounds like a strange science fiction plot, but no, this is scientific reality. And yes, it’s been documented in Canada; in Quebec, even. Up from Mexico, from the southern States, through New England, the Lone Star tick is coming, and it’s a sly one. It agressively hunts down its prey – humans and other animals. It climbs to the ends of small branches or blades of grass, then grabs onto your leg as you pass by.
The tick requires a separate host to complete each of its three stages of life as a larva, then a nymph, and finally an adult tick. Larval and nymphal Lone Stars have been found feeding on birds and small mammals, and adults on larger mammals, often on white-tailed deer. But at any stage of their development, they can feed on us humans.
In sucking your blood, the tick also injects saliva into the bite, which carries with it a sexy little substance called alpha-gal. That’s short for oligosaccharide galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose. Suffice it to say that it is a mammal-based carbohydrate molecule present in non-monkey and non-human mammals, such as cattle, pigs and sheep.
Humans usually ingest alpha-gal without any problem, but when it appears in the bloodstream, the body fights back by developing antibodies. The tick bites painlessly, and often goes unnoticed, attached to its host up to a week until it is fully engorged with blood. Symptoms of alpha-gal infection usually develop a week or two after being bitten.
I’m told no treatment exists yet for this allergy, except to stop eating red meat of the non-primate varieties. So that brings us to prevention. As for other ticks, the principal preventive strategies are to avoid dense woods and brush, wear long pants and socks, use an insect repellant containing DEET, check for ticks after being outdoors, and carefully remove any you find. Lone Star ticks also like to feed on dogs and cats, so beware for your pets.
Look for the distinctive silvery white star-shaped spot on the back of the adult female tick that gives it its name. Males have various white streaks or spots around the margins of their backs.
If you have a rash, fever, headache, joint or muscle pains, or swollen lymph nodes within 30 days after a tick bite, see a doctor. You could have an alpha-gal meat allergy or some other kind of tickborne illness. The Lone Star is generous with its infections!
In Perpetual Metamorphosis is an exhibit of art by Marie Cuerrier-Hébert at the Cookshire-Eaton Art Gallery. The art gallery and the tourist centre at the John-Henry-Pope Cultural Centre, 25 Principale West, Cookshire, are open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. until September 2. Info: 819-578-4383, www.GaleriedArtCookshireEaton.com.
The Sawyerville Community Garden’s Village Market is on Saturdays until September 22, from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Local fresh vegetables, cheese, honey, mushrooms, venison and more are available for purchase, accompanied by great good cheer and music. The Community Garden is at 70 Randboro Road. Info: Chantal Bolduc at firstname.lastname@example.org or 819-889-3196.
Taoist Tai Chi practice sessions are on Mondays at 1:30 p.m. at Scotstown Community Centre, 101 Victoria W., or in the pavilion in the park if the weather is nice. Tai chi is also on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. at the Sawyerville Community Centre, 6 Church Street, or in the park near the dam if the weather is nice. All are welcome. INFO: Pierre, 819-875-1384.
August 12: OLD
See demonstrations and displays of heritage crafts and skills at the Old Fashioned Day at the Eaton Corner Museum on Sunday, August 12, from 1 to 5 p.m. Visitors can enjoy complimentary tea and scones, old time music, have a horse and wagon ride, and more. The Museum is located at 374 Route 253, in Eaton Corner, Cookshire-Eaton. The Museum is open Wednesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in August, and on weekends during September. Info: 819-875-5256 or www.eatoncorner.ca.
August 10-14: PERSEIDS
Reserve ahead of time for an evening at the summit of Mont Mégantic observing the famous meteor showers with special presentations and obserations via a 24-inch telescope at the Popular Observatory. Important hint: Dress warm! Or without reservations, visit the Astrolab at the base of the mountain, observe the meteors via a 14-inch telescope, and see a presentation at the Cosmolab. For the schedule of activities and rates, visit the Astrolab’s website in English at http://www.astrolab-parc-national-mont-megantic.org/en/activities.perseids.htm
August 23: CORN
The annual corn boil by FADOQ Sawyerville is on Thursday, August 23, at 1 p.m. at the Sawyerville Community Centre, 6 Church Street, Sawyerville. Entrance: $5/person.
United. At 10:30 a.m. are these services: August 12 at the Cookshire United Church, and August 19 at the Sawyerville United Church. Info: 819-889-2838 (listen to message).
Baptist. In Sawyerville, the Sunday worship service is at 9 a.m. in French, and 11 a.m. in English. Sunday school is at 10 a.m. in English and French. Info: 819-239-8818.
Anglican. At 10:30 a.m. are these services: August 12 at the St. Paul’s Church in Bury, August 19 at the St. Peter’s Church in Cookshire, and August 26 at the St. John’s Church in Brookbury. Info: 819-887-6802.
Do you have news to share? Call 819-300-2374 or email email@example.com by August 13 for publication August 22 and by August 27 for September 5.