Nov. 7, 2011 -- Some people with cat allergies may also be allergic to pork and other meats because of a rare type of cross-reactive allergy known as pork-cat syndrome.
A new study describes the first six cases of pork-cat syndrome documented in the U.S. The syndrome has been established in Europe since the late 1990s.
Researchers say the basis for the syndrome appears to be a reaction to a protein of non-primate mammals. Allergic reactions attributed to pork-cat syndrome include itchy mouth, hives, and potentially life-threatening anaphylaxis.
The study is being presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
Unusual Food Allergy
In the study, researchers described six people with pork-cat syndrome. Five of the six people with the syndrome were women, and the average age was 28.
Blood tests showed all of the people tested positive for both cat and pork antibodies.
One person had experienced itchy mouth after eating pork, three had hives, and two had anaphylaxis.
Researcher Jonathon Posthumus, MD, of the University of Virginia, and colleagues say these people with pork-cat syndrome, like those cases reported in Europe, had a wide range of symptoms and inconsistent reactions to eating meat, which is typical of the syndrome.
They say pork-cat syndrome is an unusual and under-recognized food hypersensitivity reaction, and more research is needed to understand the syndrome.
These findings were presented at a medical conference. They should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.