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‘Very aggressive tick,’ whose bite causes red meat allergies not a hoax, CDC says

Burger lovers, rib grillers, Taco Tuesday fans−listen up. The Center for Disease Control's May 2018 report that diseases transmitted by fleas, mosquitoes and ticks have tripled in recent years was bad enough, but this is even worse. One type of tick bite causes an allergy to red meat.

>> Read more trending news 

The actual ailment is galactose-alpha, or alpha-gal. It's transmitted by the Lone Star tick, or amblyomma americanum, which the CDC says is widely distributed in the Southeastern and Eastern United States.

The news gets worse. The CDC calls the Lone Star "a very aggressive tick that bites humans." The adult female has a white dot or "lone star" on her back, and she and the nymph stage of the tick are the ones that most frequently chomp on humans and transmit disease. 

>> Related: Lyme disease cases on the rise : What is it and how to avoid it

And while Lone Star ticks have been cleared from any association with Lyme disease, according to an article published in the Journal of Medical Entomology earlier this year, the Lone Star tick has its own brand of destruction. It carries a sugar called alpha-gal that humans don't have. The same sugar is found in red meat, like beef, pork, venison, rabbit and some dairy products.

A bite from the tick can trigger a person's immune system to create antibodies to the sugar that, in turn, will make their body reject red meat, setting off a serious allergic reaction.

>>Related: Here’s how to prevent tick bites on people, pets

Besides being an allergy to mammalian meat like beef, pork and lamb, which is a heart-breaker for carnivore foodies, alpha-gal can trigger dangerous anaphylactic reactions.

According to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the allergy can cause hives and swelling, as well as broader symptoms of anaphylaxis, including vomiting, diarrhea, trouble breathing and a drop in blood pressure. 

"The weird thing about [this reaction] is it can occur within three to 10 or 12 hours, so patients have no idea what prompted their allergic reactions," Ronald Saff, an assistant clinical professor at Florida State University College of Medicine, told Business Insider. In 2017, Saff said he was already seeing a couple of patients per week who had developed alpha-gal from Lone Star ticks.

>> Related: 'Tick explosion' coming this summer, expert warns

Diagnosis is made more difficult because unlike, say, most seafood allergies, these red meat allergies and anaphylactic reactions caused by the Lone Star tick often seem to appear out of the blue, even occurring in the night many hours after the victim eats a burger or steak.

>> Related: University researchers find ways to battle Lyme disease in Florida

"They're sleeping, and they have no idea what they could be allergic to because the symptoms occurred so many hours after going to bed," Saff said.

The only simple aspect of identifying and avoiding the Lone Star tick is that the tactics are about the same as those for avoiding ticks in general. 

Here are six ways to avoid ticks, according to the CDC and outdoors experts:

  • Use an EPA-registered insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone on exposed skin, always making sure to follow the manufacturer's directions. (And do not use insect repellent on babies who aren't 2 months old yet.)
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, avoid brushy areas and walk in the center of trails when you're out in the woods.
  • Treat outdoor gear, such as boots, pants, socks, and tents, with products that contain .5 percent permethrin or use permethrin-treated clothing and gear. The protection should last through at least a couple of washings.
  • When you come back indoors, conduct a full-body tick check using a handheld or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas. Parents should check their children for ticks.
  • Use products that will control ticks and fleas on your pets, making sure you never apply topical dog flea medicine like Frontline to cats.
  • Take steps to control mosquitoes, ticks and fleas inside and outside your home, using screens on windows, for example, and turning on the air conditioning instead of opening windows when you can.

>> Related: Tick bite causes girl to become temporarily paralyzed

Just spraying closed shoes with permethrin can be effective, Dorothy Leland, director of communications for Lymedisease.orgtold the New York Times. "There are studies that show that just protecting your feet can do an amazing job against ticks because they tend to be low to the ground, so their entry point is that they often climb up on your shoes and keep going and get to your skin," she said.

Dangerous plant that causes blindness, 3rd degree burns found in multiple states, officials say

It is a plant that resembles the harmless Queen Ann’s Lace, but it is anything but harmless. And with more people outside now that summer is upon us, you’re going to want to watch out for Giant Hogweed.

The plant is so dangerous that New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation it has issued warnings not to touch the plants.

And while the warnings seem to sound like a Snopes’ false investigation, the online fact checking site says the claims of severe irritations are true.

>> Read more trending news 

Giant Hogweed can be found in the New England, Mid-Atlantic and Northwest areas of the country, according to Snopes. It has been found in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Washington, New York, Maryland, Oregon, Michigan, Virginia, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, CBS News reported. The plant can also be found in Massachusetts, according to the Massachusetts Introduced Pests Outreach Project.

It originally came from the Caucasus Mountains, and was first found in the U.S. in the early 20th century. Birds and waterways are known to distribute seeds, according to the DEC

Hogweed is in the carrot family and can grow 14 feet or taller. The white flower heads can grow up to 2 1/2 feet tall in diameter.

Conservation experts warn people not to touch it. If you do, the sap of the plant can cause painful blisters and permanent scarring. If it gets into an eye, it can cause blindness. 

So what do you do if you do come in contact with it? Experts say wash the area exposed  with soap and water. Also keep it away from sunlight for 48 hours. Experts also suggest seeing a doctor if you have been burned by the plant.

For tips on removing Giant Hogweed, click here.

California shelter looking for owner of 29-pound cat nicknamed 'Chubbs'

A massive cat found on a busy street in a California community is winning the hearts of his rescuers.

>> Read more trending news 

The Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA posted on its Facebook page Thursday that a 10-year-old Himalayan mix was found wandering a busy street this week and was brought to the shelter. Nicknamed Chubbs by shelter staff, the cat weighed a whopping 29 pounds. 

Chubbs' sweet demeanor was apparent to shelter staff. Pasadena Humane Society president Julie Banks told KTLA that "He is 29 pounds of love."

But shelter staff said Chubbs was also suffering from painful fur mats along his back, likely because he is too large to adequately groom himself. Shelter staff spent about two hours tending to Chubbs and cleaning him up.

Because Chubbs doesn't fit comfortably in one of the shelter's kennels, he's residing in one of the shelter's offices instead. 

The shelter is actively looking for Chubbs’ owner. The cat had no identification tag or microchip. If no owner comes forward, Chubbs will be available for adoption. Either way, the shelter hopes Chubbs can be put on a diet and exercise regimen. Cats that are excessively overweight are at increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and thyroid disease, KTLA reported.

The Humane Society encourages those following Chubbs' story to consider adopting one of the many cats or kittens available for adoption now.

Sympathetic Texas man buys pizza for immigrants found in truck

Investigators found 54 people being illegally smuggled inside a tractor-trailer Tuesday night.

While watching news coverage, Armando Colunga, wanted to do something to help.

>> Read more trending news

The tow truck driver drove across town to the scene where he noticed the men, women and children from Brazil, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico, were given water but not food, Colunga told KSAT.

There was a Little Caesars nearby. He went there and spent $50 on seven pizzas not knowing if investigators would let him give them out.

“My main motivation was, ‘Who knows how long they’ve been in there?” he told CNN.

When he got back to the scene, two detectives helped him through the yellow tape, where another officer gave the pizzas to a firefighter, who then gave them to the group, according to CNN.

"They were happy they were eating something. I figured they hadn't ate in a while," Colunga told KSAT. "They're not here to commit crime, they're here for a better life, to work. They're harder working people than some of our people here that are citizens.”

Homeland Security Investigations agents arrested the illegal immigrants. The driver, who has not been identified, was also arrested and expected to be charged with human smuggling, according to officials.

'But my emails': Hillary Clinton reacts after report reveals Comey used personal email for work

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took to Twitter on Thursday after a watchdog report issued by the Justice Department revealed that former FBI Director James Comey “used a personal email account to conduct FBI business.”

>> Read more trending news

Clinton, who ran for president in 2016 but lost to Donald Trump amid scrutiny of her use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state, responded to the news in a brief tweet.

“But my emails,” she wrote, an apparently tongue-in-cheek response to a reporter’s tweet highlighting Comey’s use of a Gmail account.

The 568-page inspector general report issued Thursday criticized Comey for his handling of the investigation but found no evidence that he was motivated by political bias or preference in his decisions.

Comey told investigators he used his personal email and laptop only when working on unclassified documents set for public dissemination, such as public speeches. He said he spoke with his chief of staff, Jim Rybicki, about the decision.

>> Trump: Justice Department report wrong in finding no bias by FBI

In an email to officials, Rybicki said that Comey occasionally sent “unclassified emails from his official mail account address to (his Gmail account).”

“He opened this personal account at about the time he became Director,” Rybicki told officials, according to the inspector general’s office. “To ensure a high level of cybersecurity, Director Comey routinely deletes all emails from his [Gmail] account each day, and then clears the deleted messages folder.”

>> Trump denies he fired Comey over Russia investigation

Comey faced criticism during and after the 2016 presidential election for his handling of the Clinton investigation. His decision to release a letter to Congress informing lawmakers of newly uncovered Clinton emails just weeks before the election had a strong impact on the vote, according to analysts.

Comey said two days before the election that nothing new or incriminating was found in the emails.

‘Bro, I just caught a body’: 3 teens charged in ‘modified’ Russian roulette death of friend

Matthew Minkler thought he was among friends when he was shot in the face last week during what Nevada police investigators have called a “modified” game of Russian roulette. 

Two of those friends, Jaiden Caruso and Kody Harlan, are accused of shooting the 17-year-old and leaving him mortally wounded in an abandoned house in Henderson, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. They returned a short time later to clean up the scene and drag his plastic-covered body into a closet, police said.  

The words “(Expletive) Matt” were spray-painted on the door of the closet where Minkler’s body was found, according to court documents obtained by the newspaper

Caruso, 16, and Harlan, 17, have been charged as adults. Caruso, who investigators said pulled the trigger, is charged with murder with a deadly weapon and robbery. Harlan, who is accused of dragging Minkler’s body into the closet, is charged with accessory to murder after the fact, destroying evidence and robbery.

The robbery charges stem from the pair taking Minkler’s wallet before leaving the scene, the Review-Journal said. Caruso and Harlan are each being held in lieu of more than $1 million bail. 

The newspaper reported Friday that a third teen has been charged in the case. The boy, who is currently charged as a minor, faces charges of accessory to murder and destroying evidence. 

Investigators are seeking to have him tried as an adult as well, according to Henderson police spokesman Scott Williams

Williams told the Review-Journal Wednesday that the case “shocked the conscience” of the entire department. 

“This one will stick with you because it’s so sinister,” Williams said

>> Read more trending news

Henderson investigators continue to investigate the involvement of other teens they believe were at the scene when the shooting took place. No one, including Caruso and Harlan, reported that Minkler had been shot. 

“They never called 911,” investigators wrote in the probable cause affidavit for the teens’ arrest. “They never attempted to render aid.”

The Las Vegas Sun reported that Caruso and Harlan were arrested the night of June 8 after they took Henderson officers on a short pursuit in a stolen Mercedes and crashed the car. 

Officers said they found a .375-caliber revolver in the car, with one spent casing in the gun’s chamber. Minkler’s stolen wallet was also in the car, officers said.

It wasn’t long before Harlan, whose Facebook profile picture appears to show him pointing a handgun at the camera, began talking about the slaying that afternoon in an abandoned house on Cool Lilac Avenue. 

The Sun reported that Harlan told detectives he, Minkler, Caruso and others had gone to the abandoned home, where he said Caruso pulled out a revolver and suggested the group play Russian roulette. The deadly game is played with a single bullet loaded into a revolver, after which point the gun’s cylinder is spun so no one knows where the loaded chamber is. Participants take turns pointing the gun to their own heads and pulling the trigger.

Harlan told investigators Caruso never handed the gun over to the other participants.

“(Caruso) never allowed other participants to handle the firearm, or pull the trigger themselves, but rather, (Caruso) was the only person who pointed the gun and pulled the trigger,” court documents said, according to the Sun

Caruso’s own cellphone corroborated parts of Harlan’s story, the newspaper reported. One Snapchat video shot just before 1 p.m. on the day of the shooting appears to show Caruso in the abandoned house, showing the revolver and the single bullet in the cylinder. 

In the next video, shot at 2:44 p.m., Caruso is seen speaking into the camera, saying, “Bro, I just caught a body,” the Sun reported. He pans the camera to the kitchen floor, where Minkler lay bleeding.

A video shot six minutes later shows Caruso “calmly” walking to the kitchen sink and wetting his hands to clean blood off his sneakers as a voice off-camera asks what to do with Minkler’s body, the Review-Journal reported

Police said Caruso later used $300 taken from Minkler’s wallet, which Harlan told investigators he grabbed before they fled the scene, to replace his shoes, the newspaper reported. The rest of the cash they allegedly stole from the victim was used to buy drugs, police officials said. 

Arrest reports said that Caruso, who initially blamed the shooting on someone else, “broke down and admitted his involvement” when confronted with the videos. He told investigators the shooting was an accident and that he was high on Xanax when it took place. 

Minkler’s mother, Jamie Shanklin, told the Review-Journal the cash that was stolen from her son was money he had received for his recent birthday.

“He cared more about his shoes,” a weeping Shanklin said of Caruso. 

The heartbroken mother said she does not believe the Russian roulette story.

“My kid was shot in the chin, like they were shutting him up,” Shanklin told the newspaper

She said she believes that Caruso had a “beef” with her son and pretended to be his friend to get close to him. 

“(Matt) would have never gotten into the car with them if he knew,” she said. 

Minkler’s Facebook page was that of a typical teenage boy, but his last post on May 30 indicated he was lonely. 

“I don’t get asked to hang out no more,” Minkler wrote. “I don’t get any more texts from ANYBODY just to at least say, ‘What’s up?’ I have people on here that don’t even want to talk to me anymore. The list can go on and on.”

The love family and friends poured out to him on the post turned to anguish after his death. 

“Matthew, you (were) truly a sweet boy,” wrote one girl who said she’d known him since elementary school. “I can’t believe you’re gone. May you rest in peace and finally know how much you are loved.”

Minkler’s kindergarten teacher also offered her condolences.

“What a wonderful, full-of-life child,” Elizabeth Ann Pesco wrote. “Full of curiosity about everything. Rest in peace, dear one.”

Shanklin described her son, who was set to start his senior year in the fall, as a good child with a kind soul. She said his last words as he left home Friday afternoon were to tell his siblings, “Tell Mom I love her.”

“I’ve been mourning for days, and now I feel my anger,” Shanklin told the Review-Journal Wednesday as she planned her son’s funeral. “My baby never came home.”

GoFundMe page to help with Minkler’s funeral has raised nearly $10,000 in five days. A candlelight vigil was scheduled to be held for the teen Friday night in Henderson’s Pebble Park. 

Donald Trump Through The Years

Donald Trump Through The Years

Family seeks treatment for 9-year-old ‘addicted’ to playing ‘Fortnite’

A 9-year-old girl has been sent to a treatment center in the U.K. after her parents said she became addicted to the popular online game, ‘Fortnite: Battle Royal.’ 

>> Read more trending news 

The girl’s parents told British newspaper The Sunday People that they realized their daughter was playing ‘Fortnite’ so much that her grades were slipping and she started racking up credit card charges on in-game purchases.

“We had no idea, when we let her play the game, of the ­addictive nature or the impact it could have on her mental health,”  said Carol, the girl’s mother. “She is in therapy for the addiction after she ­became withdrawn, ­agitated, and disturbed from playing up to 10 hours a day ... sometimes playing until dawn, wetting ­herself so she didn't have to leave the screen.”

‘Fortnite: Battle Royal’ is considered one of the most popular video games in the world, with over 40 million active players a month. The fast-paced survival game drops players into a colorful island where they have to fight each other until only one remains.

The New Yorker likened its popularity among teens to Beatlemania and the viral Tide Pod challenge.

Randy Kulman, a child psychologist in Rhode Island, told Live Science that ‘Fortnite’ addiction is a “phenomenon” that has taken over his practice.

He said many of his patients become obsessed with the game and admit to playing it thousands of times, often hiding from their parents.

Dr. Leonard Sax, the author of “The Collapse of Parenting” and “Boys Adrift,” said that a healthy gaming diet for children shouldn’t be longer than 40 minutes a night on school nights, and no more than an hour on weekends. 

“That adds up to six hours a week. If you spend six hours or less playing games, research suggests it doesn't impact school performance or real-world relationships,” Sax said. “But if you spend more, and there are many who play 20 hours a week, then you're more likely to see an impact.”

Kayaker finds human skull while digging for rocks on sandbar, police say

A kayaker digging for rocks in a sandbar on a Kansas river Sunday uncovered a human skull believed to have been buried for decades, police say.

>> Read more trending news

Police and firefighters responded to the scene around 4:20 p.m. at Bonner Springs and took the partial skull to the Wyandotte County Coroner’s Office on Monday, according to the Kansas City Star.

The Coroner’s Office preliminary investigation indicates it’s the skull of a middle-aged or elderly man.

'Real Housewives of Atlanta' NeNe Leakes says husband Gregg has cancer

NeNe Leakes announced on Instagram Thursday that her husband,Gregg Leakes, has cancer.

The “Real Housewives of Atlanta” castmate didn’t provide details in terms of where his cancer is. In May, Gregg Leakes was in a hospital for two weeks for unspecified reasons. Last November, he was hospitalized for a dangerously low heartbeat

>> Read more trending news 

The couple married in 1997 and divorced in 2011 but reconciled and remarried two years later. 

Reaction from fans has been strong. She received more than 175,000 likes on the post in 17 hours. 

“Our New Normal and the fight begins,” she captioned the post.

In a follow-up post, NeNe Leakes thanked fans for their support and gave an update on how her husband is doing.

“We have been so overwhelmed with the out pouring of love, support, thoughtfulness and prayers. Some of you have educated us on cleanses, diets &amp; holistic healthcare. We wouldn’t know some of these things if it wasn’t for the reach we have been blessed to have.”

“So far, Gregg is doing great! He feels good with the exception of not being able to eat a lot,” she wrote. “The cancer was removed! Now we have to decide whether we do chemo or not? Would you?”

She also thanked past and current “RHOA” cast members for their support, including Kim Zolziack, whose relationship with NeNe Leakes has been strained.

“Thank you so much to the ladies I work with and have worked with in the past for sending gifts, love and just good ole words of encouragement,” Leakes said in a follow up post, tagging Cynthia Bailey, Kandi Burruss, Marlo Hampton, Porsha Williams, Kenya Moore, Phaedra Parks, Eva Marcille, Shamea Morton, Lisa Wu and Zolciak.

“We hope you all know that this really means a lot.”

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