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Nearly 500,000 Americans have been affected by a red meat allergy caused by the bit of a tick, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The allergy could be life-threatening, the CDC is warning.

On Thursday, the CDC issued a report saying it found between 96,000 and 450,000 Americans since 2010 may have been affected by alpha-gal syndrome.

Alpha-gal syndrome is triggered by alpha-gal which is a sugar molecule that is not naturally present in humans.

The molecule is found in pork, beef, rabbit, lamb and venison, as well as products made from mammals including gelatin and milk products, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Recognizing the allergy as alpha-gal is sometimes difficult.

“Because the diagnosis of alpha-gal syndrome requires a positive diagnostic test and a clinical exam, and some individuals with alpha-gal syndrome may not get tested, it is estimated that as many as 450,000 people might have been affected by AGS in the United States,” the CDC said, adding. “Of those aware of AGS, knowledge about diagnosis and management is low.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms include hives or itchy rash, nausea or vomiting, heartburn or indigestion, diarrhea, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, drop in blood pressure, swelling of the lips, throat, tongue, or eyelids, dizziness or faintness, or severe stomach pain.

Symptoms are usually seen two to six hours after consuming food or products that contain alpha-gal.

Symptoms can range from mild to severe to life-threatening, the Mayo Clinic said.. In some cases, individuals can experience anaphylaxis, which means a person’s airway begins to constrict and make it difficult to breathe. In severe cases,  a potentially life-threatening reaction occurs when an over-release of chemicals puts the person into shock, in turn impacting multiple organ systems.

There is currently no treatment for red meat allergy beyond avoiding the consumption of red meat and in some cases, dairy and gelatin.

According to the CDC, the allergy seems to be triggered by the saliva from the lone-star tick which bites humans. The tick has been described as a “very aggressive,” and is found in states in the Southeast and in south-central states.