On August 12, 2021, musician Ken McCullick passed away tragically after receiving a blood thinner called heparin, to which he had a deadly allergy. This allergy is called alpha-gal syndrome and is caused by a sugar found in red meat and dairy products. It is transmitted through the bite of a lone star tick. Up to 450,000 Americans are affected by this allergy, but it is not widely recognized as a food allergy.

Diagnosing alpha-gal syndrome is difficult because symptoms appear later. Many doctors and nurses are unaware of the allergy. McCullick experienced severe reactions after eating red meat or dairy. Recent data suggests up to 450,000 cases in the US since 2010, more common in states with lone star ticks. Raising awareness about alpha-gal syndrome is vital to prevent tragedies and save lives.