Archive for the ‘Perfect Examples’ Category

A perfect example of why you should never forget to put permethrin on your clothes was recently brought to my attention. One of my coworkers, a geologist in his late forties, had recently developed a moderately severe allergy to red meats. It had started a couple months after he began work down here, and had never been an issue at all previously in his life.

It started with steaks and hamburgers. He would eat one and 3-6 hours later would come down with hives, intense itching, rashes and at some times shortness of breath and lung constriction. After several episodes, he determined it was the steak and burgers that were inducing the reactions. Now at this point he could still consume pig products and certain other leaner red meats. Yet as the months dragged on, one by one different meats began yielding the same allergic reactions. Ham…bacon….lamb…..venison. They all eventually came off the menu.

During this time, he had noticed that chicken, turkey and fish did not yield the same reaction, and so they slowly became the main source of protein for his diet.

Busty redheads always have the answers

The underlying cause and sudden onset of this rather severe allergy still being unknown, he simply avoided red meat. Every once in a while he would try a piece here or accidentally ingest a piece there, and everytime it would yield stronger effects.

Several weeks ago after a routine workout he made his normal whey protein shake like he had been doing for years. Unfortunately, this too eventually led to the same allergic reaction several hours later. At this point, somewhat serendipitously (but also out of concern for his health), his wife stumbled upon a bizarre article relating southeastern US (Carolinas, Virginia, etc) tick bites to sudden onset meat allergies. After hearing this from him I found some articles online describing this documented condition as something called an Alpha-Gal allergy.

A link from the article’s frequently asked questions page sums it up nicely:

“When certain people are bitten by ticks or chiggers, the bite appears to set off a chain of reactions in the body.  One of these reactions is the production of an allergic class of antibody that binds to a carbohydrate present on meat called galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose, also known as alpha-gal.

Galactose-Alpha 1,3 Galactose…..the Vin Diesel of the carbohydrate class antibodies.

When a person with the alpha-gal antibody eats mammalian meat, the meat triggers the release of histamine.  Histamine is a compound found in the body that causes allergic symptoms like hives, itching and, in the worst case, anaphylaxis (a reaction that leads to sudden weakness, swelling of the throat, lips and tongue, difficulty breathing and/or unconsciousness).

This allergy is different from other food allergies like peanut allergy in that the response is delayed.  Unlike someone with a peanut allergy who has an immediate reaction when they eat a peanut, people with the alpha-gal allergy do not start having symptoms until several hours after they eat meat.

“Hmmmm….maybe that 72oz steak challenge wasn’t a good idea…”

What exactly is mammalian meat?

Mammalian meat is any meat that comes from a mammal.  This includes beef, pork, lamb, venison, goat and bison.  Chicken, turkey and fish are not mammals and therefore do not have alpha-gal.”


Beef….it’s what’s causing your anaphylaxis.

At this time, the condition is permanent, with only anecdotal evidence suggesting a decreased sensitivity over time (which includes avoidance of meat and more tick bites.) The allergic reaction has also been known to be triggered by certain dairy products, products in contact with mammalian red meat, gelatin based products (gelcap medications, candies etc) and whey protein powders.

My coworker has not been to the southeastern US in years, and has only had one tick bite in the last several years, occurring here in Nicaragua, weeks before initial symptoms began occurring. Like many others, he reported this tick bite to be unusually itchy compared to previous tick bites in his life.

So what’s the bottom line? Well, in some respects it could be a blessing in disguise. Eliminating all red meats from a diet and replacing them with fish and chicken would be in near universal agreement as a healthier dietary lifestyle, yet the physical obligation to abstain from those foods is certainly undesired. Anti-histamines lessen the symptoms, but from what he says they sound pretty horrific even despite the sweet bliss of a serious Benadryl buzz.

So remember kids, unless you want nature to force you to be a steadfast vegetarian, don’t forget your damn permethrin.

Look at it….look at the horror so you never forget your Permethrin…



I decided that in addition to making posts for each separate rule, I would make specific posts highlighting the importance of that rule. This particular event occurred on January 27th 2012 as I was starting my most recent vacation. As a fervent observer of Rule #3, I always make sure I go to the capital city the night before a flight to avoid any possible snafus that would cause me to miss a flight. The following are a set of drawings that will illustrate a perfect example of why I do this….

This first picture is to give you an outline. If you are unfamiliar at how a 2 lane highway works, one side drives within the confines of their half of the highway and the other side drives within the same confines in the opposite direction. The only times to cross into the oncoming lane are when it will be a brief and safe departure from your own lane to pass someone. I only say this because Nicaraguans really tend to ignore the whole highway paradigm.

Alright, so apparently there was some sort of protest in one of the cities causing a stoppage of both lanes. Now I can’t stress the importance of this next fact……the protest only blocked actual car traffic for 30 minutes. Ok just hang on to that because we will address it later.
Due to the lack of oncoming traffic, a certain group (read: almost all) of the Nicaraguan drivers started driving in the eastbound lane to better their position in the traffic jam. What are the chances that this was a unique westbound phenomenon?

As you expected, the inevitable disaster occurred, as two lanes of westbound faced off against two lanes of eastbound traffic. (Pictured below.) There was some saving grace however, on either side of the 2 lane highway there were rough but driveable dirt roads. Now, of course this was not realized as a solution because drivers from both directions continued to flood any available space in a desperate attempt to get any forward progress regardless of how much delay it would inevitably cause.

At this point, cars are absolutely everywhere. Intermixing into small crevices within the two main lanes. Going forward, reversing, trying to go sideways all around the highway. In a wondrous act of luck, the jam reached FUBAR status as we had gotten to the entrance of a small town. I hesitated on following the Siren Song of the young children funneling people into the town for a small fee ($2.40) as I had my computer, camera, kindle, and several hundred dollars in cash on my person. However after watching at least 25 cars enter the town I decided to pay the kids. After a rickety journey through a one way passage we emerged on the other end of the clustered mess feeling like Frodo and the gang. As illustrated I aptly named the entrance Salvation’s Gate and this time…..we did indeed pass.

Sidenote: Eastbound traffic was stuck for 12 hours…….

Remember that 30 minutes I was talking about earlier?