Methods: A retrospective chart review of a single-site Allergy practice in Tennessee was conducted of the clinic’s alpha-gal registry of patients seen from 2010-2015.
Results: There were 38 patients diagnosed with alpha-gal hypersensitivity over a five-year period (2010-2015). Patient characteristics included: mean age at diagnosis 50.7 years (range 14-74 years), 44.7% were male (17/38), mean alpha-gal IgE 29.7 kU/L (range 1.1-97.3; two patients excluded from mean with levels >100). Four patients had follow-up alpha-gal levels which had all decreased: patient 1 (6.2 to 1.9 kU/L after 42 months), patient 2 (23.2 to 8.7 kU/L after 42 months), patient 3 (82.3 to 58.7 kU/L after 34 months) and patient 4 (95.2 to 1.3 kU/L after 48 months). Signs and symptoms included cutaneous pruritus, urticaria, angioedema, hoarseness, dyspnea, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, lightheadedness, hypotension, and syncope. Culprit foods included beef, pork, venison, cow’s milk, and lamb. Time between onset of signs and symptoms to diagnosis was 1 month-15 years. Time between ingestion and signs/symptoms was 1-6 hours.
Conclusions: Alpha-gal hypersensitivity is not an uncommon food hypersensitivity as demonstrated by the 38 patients diagnosed in this single-site clinic in Tennessee over a 5-year period. All medical care providers should maintain a high index of suspicion of this condition in patients presenting with anaphylaxis in the absence of an immediate allergen association.