It’s not news that during the summer you can run into problems with ticks, particularly if you spend time out in the country, have a dog, etc. And we’ve also known for some time that certain ticks can cause serious health problems for people and animals alike. But now things have gone too far.

There’s a new weapon in the war on meat: a tiny tick, whose bite might be spreading meat allergies up the East Coast.

A bite from the lone star tick, so-called for the white spot on its back, looks innocent enough. But University of Virginia researchers say saliva that sneaks into the tiny wound may trigger an allergic reaction to meat — agonizing enough to convert lifelong carnivores into wary vegetarians.

“People will eat beef and then anywhere from three to six hours later start having a reaction; anything from hives to full-blown anaphylactic shock,” said Dr. Scott Commins, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. “And most people want to avoid having the reaction, so they try to stay away from the food that triggers it.”

Commins said cases of the bizarre allergy are popping up along the East Coast and into the Bible Belt, areas ripe with lone star ticks. He’s already seen 400 or so. And 90 percent of them have a history of tick bites, he said.

Call me a conspiracy theorist if you like – my clearly rational belief in UFOs and Bigfoot not withstanding – but this didn’t happen by accident. Of what possible evolutionary value is having saliva that can turn your victim into a vegetarian? OK… if the Tick Scientists are playing really long ball I suppose you could argue that by eventually turning everything on the planet into vegans there would eventually be a lot more food around for the ticks, but that’s giving them an awful lot of credit.

No, I think the answer will be found much closer to home. This is obviously a biological weapon cooked up at the Centers for Disease Control labs – following a generous donation from Michael Bloomberg – designed to get everyone to eat broccoli. We tried to warn you. But would you listen? Noooooooooo.

Here’s the video.

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