Understanding Alpha-gal Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

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I once read a social media post that referenced an allergy to red meat called alpha-gal syndrome. I immediately thought to myself “How horrible!” I pride myself on being a meat eater, especially red meat. I have been eating red meat my whole life. I am now a hunter and enjoy meals of venison and elk regularly.

alpha-gal syndrome

There is a plethora of information on the internet regarding prevention but there is no cure. The Mayo Clinic defines alpha-gal as a syndrome stating it “is a recently identified type of food allergy to red meat and other products made from mammals.” The article lists beef, pork, and lamb as red meats. The article says that if someone is suffering from undiagnosed allergies, by skin testing, they may discover they have alpha-gal syndrome.

Who can get alpha-gal syndrome?

Anyone who enjoys the outdoors can get alpha-gal syndrome. Currently, the primary suspect for passing alpha-gal in the United States is the Lone Star Tick with the runner-up being chiggers. The tick/chigger bites you, transfers a sugar molecule, and your body, if functioning normally, triggers an immune reaction. An allergic response is not immediate, but the allergic reaction can increase in severity. As with more common allergies, such as peanut or bee stings, someone with alpha-gal may require the use of an Epi-pen at some point.

How to prevent alpha-gal syndrome.

Prevention is key.

I recently had a very uncomfortable situation brought on by chiggers which prompted me to review some key prevention options during my outdoor adventures. I got them because I used the bathroom outside. I now recall the grass brushing my skin, but now I have to think about how to solve this problem. I use DEET on my clothes and I cover my skin from head to toe. But I do not spray my skin under my clothes. After posting on social media about my horrible gift from Idaho, someone recommended Chigg Away. It’s both a prevention and relief product as it contains Benzocaine, a topical anti-itch medication. My case was classic: bites, irritation, itching around the elastic areas of my clothing.

alpha gal syndrome ticks

Remove clothing.

It is also imperative to remove your outdoor items as soon as arriving home and shower (or as soon as you return to your car). In my case, I was out for hours that day and the chiggers had ample time to bite me. However, keep in mind your pets can also bring them inside, so you’ll want to research those options. Pets may not be bothered by them but they will travel into your home on their hair. Unlike ticks that are more easily visible due to size, chiggers are very small, red bugs.

More Ways to Prevent Alpha-Gal Syndrome:


Weather plays a huge factor in dressing for the outdoors which makes prevention difficult. On any given day I might hike, fish, and scout. With the temperature changes from spring, and summer, to fall while I am out on my adventure. Dressing accordingly can be tough.

Pay attention to key areas

Key areas I always pay attention to are my feet/legs and my head/hair.


Use DEET with 20% or higher concentration. Make sure to read the product packaging before using it, especially on children. This is my go-to option and I have several containers on the ready. I keep one in the truck, another in my fishing bag, and one in my “out for the day” pack.

Try Permethrin

Most outdoors enthusiasts will recommend Sawyer products. This product is sprayed on your clothing, dries, and has protective components for several washes. For me, the downfall is I never know what I’m going to wear outside of hunting season so waiting for clothes to be treated and dry isn’t feasible.

Look into Chigg Away

Before I make the same mistake twice, I will be adding Chigg Away to the “out for the day” pack. With both prevention and relief in one bottle, why wouldn’t I?!

Do you have alpha-gal syndrome?

This website is for information purposes only.  The information contained in this post is not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, mitigate, prevent, or provide medical advice.  Consult with a health care provider if you are experiencing any symptoms. 

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This post may contain affiliate links. Miss Pursuit may earn a small commission for our endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website. Your purchase helps support our work in bringing you real information about hunting and the outdoors.

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