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Mammalian Meat Allergy Webinar

Mammalian Meat Allergy

In this webinar, leading experts, Professor Dr Sheryl van Nunen OAM and Clinical Nurse Specialist Melanie Burk, present on Mammalian Meat Allergy.

Tick bites can cause mild to life-threatening allergic reactions to mammalian meats such as beef, pork, lamb, kangaroo, goat and venison in some people. This type of reaction and the link to tick bites was first recognised and described by Professor van Nunen in 2007. In this webinar, our presenters describe mammalian meat allergy, the relationship to tick bites, how to manage the disease and the latest research.

Event recorded: Tuesday 24 October 2023

Mammalian Meat Allergy - Full webinar

What foods should a person with MMA avoid?

What other products do people with MMA need to avoid?

What is the research on tick allergies and MMA?

What is recommended if you have ticks in your garden? What about sprays?

What are the cardiovascular implications of having MMA and what can people do if their risk is increased?

What measures can I take to reduce reactions to meat while it is cooking? What about masks?

Is there a card, similar to the chef card, to give chemists, medical practitioners for medications etc?

There is not a specific allergen card for pharmacists and medical practitioners but the MMA Food Allergen Card includes:
  • Vitamins and ‘over the counter’ treatments
  • Some vaccinations (speak with your doctor)
  • Artificial Blood
  • Cetuximab
  • Pancreatic enzyme replacements
  • Heparin
Advice about medication needs to be targeted for the patient's situation and medical plans. In addition, new medications are released frequently so any list would be out of date very quickly.

Can people with MMA donate blood?

Are people with certain blood types more likely to get MMA?

Research from Tiara shows no appreciable difference and the literature is divided.

Is it possible to have a stronger reaction from a mammalian meat meal if you do some sort of cardio exercise after it?

Professor van Nunen advises that following "Amplifying factors" may reduce the threshold for a person to react or increase the severity of a reaction to mammalian meat. These factors differ from person to person so it is advised you speak with your doctor about amplifying factors. 

  • Greater amount of a food
  • Exercise
  • Alcohol
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Degree of cooking of the food. With mammalian meat, slow cooking may increase the amount of allergen available and reheating will increase the reaction or the likelihood of a reaction.
  • Spice, particularly chilli and capsicum-all spices except black pepper, nutmeg and bay leaf
  • NSAIDS e.g. Nurofen, aspirin, Mobic within 24 hours prior
  • Being unwell (increases immune activity)
  • Being premenstrual  

What measures can schools in high tick areas take to reduce the risk of students getting tick bites?

The P and C should establish if there is a problem by surveying the school community and the school staff and then decide whether to use a pest controller. Other measures may include making areas which are known to have a high risk of ticks out of bounds and/or employ fencing as needed.

The Northern beaches council suggests the following to reduce the likelihood of ticks in the garden:

  • keeping lawn short
  • removing weeds and dead vegetation
  • pruning low vegetation to increase sunlight
  • using gravel mulches instead of wood chip and straw
  • employing a professional pest controller in areas where ticks regularly occur

I have gut based allergic reactions regularly - is there any research on the long term affects of this to your inside health?

Not yet and no reason to believe at this time that recurrent gut allergic reactions due to mammalian meat or other food allergies cause long term harm.

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MMA webinar Survey

About the presenters:

Professor Dr Sheryl van Nunen OAM FRSN MBBS MM FRACP

Professor Sheryl van NunenDr Sheryl van Nunen is a Clinical Professor, Northern Clinical School, Sydney Medical School, Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney; and Clinical Professor, Faculty of Medicine, Health and Human Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney; a consultant physician in allergic diseases at Northern Beaches Hospital, Sydney, and a Visiting Medical Officer at Northern Beaches and North Shore Private Hospitals. She was Head of the Department of Allergy at Royal North Shore Hospital for over 26 years and a Senior Staff Specialist at Royal North Shore Hospital from 1988 - 2020.  Sheryl found in 1987, and then, in 2007, first described the association between mammalian meat anaphylaxis and prior tick bites.  She has over 175 publications to her credit and has been the Principal Investigator in clinical trials of over 75% of all new therapies introduced to Australia for allergic diseases between 1985-2016.  In 2013, she convened the TiARA (Tick-induced Allergies Research and Awareness) Committee, the peak resource for tick-induced allergies (mammalian meat allergy and tick anaphylaxis) and is the Director of the Centre for Tick-induced Allergies in Sydney.

Melanie Burk RN 

Melanie BurkMelanie has worked as a registered nurse and clinical nurse specialist for over 30 years. Her background includes clinical work in Allergy, Neurology, Respiratory, Ear Nose & Throat, Urology and Ophthalmology. The past seven years include working as a Clinical Trial Study Co-ordinator for phase I to phase IV clinical trials in the areas of Clinical Immunology & Allergy as well as Neurology. Melanie has worked with Dr van Nunen since the inception of TiARA (Tick-induced Allergies Research and Awareness) in a wide range of roles providing education to medical and pharmaceutical health professionals, and most of all, to the general public. Her involvement in both clinical and observational research has assisted with publications from TiARA, and Melanie is co-author on a number of publications within the scope of Allergy and Immunology as well as Neuromuscular, Neurology disease.