Jordan Simons loves being outdoors…especially playing softball. You could say it’s in her blood. But there’s something else in her blood that’s not so nice. Jordan suffered what she thought was a spider-bite on her foot while watching a motocross race on a trip down south. That’s when the problems started. A couple of days after coming home, her foot became so swollen she couldn’t walk on it. Her family doctor gave her antibiotics, thinking it was a spider bite. But it didn’t help, and she began having severe allergic reactions…including a really bad rash and swelling of her throat and tongue.
Turns out it wasn’t a spider…but a sandwich that caused her problems. Jordan came to The University of Kansas Health System to see an allergist. When Dr. Selina Gierer heard Jordan had suffered a bug bite, she suspected it was from a tick, which caused Jordan to develop a rare but growing allergy to meat called alpha-galacto-sidase, or alpha-gal for short. All alpha-gal patients have one thing in common…a lone star tick bite...BUT, not everyone who’s bitten by that tick gets the allergy. The cure? It’s simple…no meat from a four-legged animal…for anywhere from five months to eight years. Pretty tough when you live in a family of meat lovers! The good news is Jordan’s had no allergic reactions since she stopped eating meat…plus her family makes sure they always have food she can eat. She’ll get tested once a year to see if the allergy has cleared.
The video includes sound from Dr. Selina Gierer (pronounced “gear”), an allergist at The University of Kansas Health System who says alpha-gal syndrome is not very common, but she’s starting to see more of it in her clinic. She says it’s possible for patients to outgrow the allergy, but if they suffer another tick bite, it will return. She talks about the symptoms and risks, how it can be hard to diagnose, and the fact that the only treatment is to avoid red meat.
Also, Jordan Simons talks about her experience, her symptoms and how she looks forward to the day when she can sink her teeth into a juicy hamburger again! The video also contains b-roll of Jordan playing softball.