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Springfield-Greene County Health Department News Releases

Posted on: June 13, 2023

Health Department warns of anticipated increase in tick-borne illness, alpha-gal syndrome

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As the weather continues to warm and people spend more time outdoors, tick bites are becoming more common. With this nuisance comes the potential for tick-borne illnesses. Springfield-Greene County Health is anticipating a spike in one of these illnesses, alpha-gal syndrome (AGS), due to the prevalence of the lone star tick in this region. 

AGS is caused when a lone star tick that has fed on other mammals bites a person and transfers the alpha-gal carbohydrate into their bloodstream. This can lead to the person bitten developing an allergy to red meat, which is why AGS is sometimes referred to as Mammalian Meat Allergy (MMA). 

People with AGS usually see signs of an allergic reaction 2 to 8 hours after eating red meat, organ meat and other products made from mammals such as gelatins and dairy products. Symptoms of a reaction caused by AGS include: 

  • Hives, itching or itchy, scaly skin.
  • Swelling of the lips, face, tongue, throat or other body parts. 
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath. 
  • Stomach pain, diarrhea, upset stomach or vomiting. 

There is no treatment for AGS and it can last between 8 months and 5 years. People who contract AGS are advised to avoid additional tick bites and stop eating red meat. Further tick bites can lead to complications or more severe reactions. 

While the Health Department does not know precisely how many cases occur in Greene County annually since AGS is not a reportable disease, the estimated number of cases of AGS is 32% higher in the Midwest than in other parts of the United States. Additionally, the lone star tick can also transmit other diseases like ehrilchia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, heartland virus, southern tick-associated rash illness, bourbon virus and tularemia. 

Ticks are most commonly found in wooded, bushy areas and areas with long grass. The Health Department encourages people to spend time outdoors this summer, since getting out and enjoying our regions trails, parks, lakes, rivers, and other natural amenities is good for both your physical and mental health. When you are spending time outdoors, you can take steps to prevent tick bites and the resulting tick-borne illnesses: 

  • Use an EPA-registered insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone.
  • Wear long pants and tuck them into your socks. 
  • Always wear shoes that cover your feet completely. 
  • Stick to established and maintained trails.
  • Keep pets on a leash and don’t let them wander into tall grass or bushy areas. 

Once you return indoors, check yourself, children and pets for ticks and remove any that have bitten immediately. For more information on preventing tick-borne illnesses, visit the Health Departments Bug-Related Illnesses webpage. More information about Alpha-Gall Syndrome can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.  


Media may contact the Health Department PIO Team by call or text at 417-380-2556 or email at [email protected]. 

Springfield-Greene County Health Department                    

“Helping all people live longer, healthier, happier lives.”             | |                                                


227 E. Chestnut Expressway


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