If there’s one thing to put you off the warm Canadian summer, it is all of the creepy crawlies and critters that emerge out of nowhere, just in time for you to put on your shorts and t-shirts. This is certainly the case for a veterinary practice in southern Ontario, who are warning Canadians to be aware after they came across an extremely rare tick last week. The tick, which is not native to this country, is known to have the strangest effect on humans... this tick makes people allergic to meat.

The Oakridge Animal Clinic in London, Ont. is asking Canadians to be on high alert, after finding the rare tick that can give humans an allergy to red meat, specifically. Speaking to CTV News, veterinarian Dr. Gillian Egli said “It's a very scary tick. It carries diseases that can be transmitted to dogs, but also to humans.”

The London veterinary practice said they learned about the bug after a woman found it on her cat. The tick, known as a ‘Lone Star’ tick, is not native to Canada and now vets are becoming concerned that these ticks are living locally in the area. The clinic confirmed that, as the cat with the tick did not have any travel history, meaning it must have picked up the tick in Canada.

In a post on their Facebook page, the Oakridge Animal Clinic warned “This tick showed up today. She caused quite a stir. Not native to Canada there have been rumours of the Lone Star Tick being found in Ontario. This was our first one. This shows why tick protection is important for your furry family members.”

According to reports, Lone Star ticks are native to southeastern areas of the US and Mexico, but are being increasingly discovered in Canada. It is believed that they arrive in the country on the backs on migrating birds. While scientists can’t explain why, a bite from the Lone Star tick gives the recipient an allergy to alpha-gal, a carbohydrate that is found in red meat.

Reports are saying that reactions to meat after the tick bite can range from hives, vomiting, and diarrhea, to more severe reactions, including anaphylaxis. Sufferers become unable to eat all kinds of red meat, including beef, lamb and pork, and once you have been affected, there is no known cure for the meat allergy.

Ontarians on Twitter have been reacting with horror after the tick has been found in their local area, with one user saying "Ruh-roh! That's a little close to home. Can you imagine becoming allergic to meat? #NightmareScenario." Another user joked "Mother Nature is done playing when it comes to climate change."

According to Jeremy Hogeveen, who is the vector-borne disease coordinator with the Middlesex-London Health Unit, ticks are incredibly smart, and know exactly where to hide on a human body. He noted that “They start to move into areas where you’re not going to look too often - your armpits, your scalp, behind your ears and behind your knees.”

If that isn’t enough to give you the heebie jeebies and convince you to wear your long pants and bug spray this summer, I don’t know what will!

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