As temperatures rise around the country, more and more people are venturing outdoors. The nation’s emergency physicians are warning about the dangers of insect bites, specifically from ticks and mosquitoes, which can cause serious illnesses.
The bite itself may be nothing more than a minor annoyance. It’s the disease that insects carry that can become a serious medical problem. Simple things like wearing insect repellent, routinely checking your body and wearing long- sleeved shirts and pants near wooded areas or grasslands may prevent an unexpected trip the emergency department.
Ticks carry Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Both illnesses can be treated when caught early. Symptoms of Lyme disease usually appear within a few weeks of infection and can include a salmon-colored rash that’s white in the center. If left untreated, it can spread to the heart, brain and/or nervous system.Rocky Mountain spotted fever is not as common as Lyme disease but is the most severe of the tick-borne illnesses. Victims can see symptoms such as sudden fever, headache, muscle pain and a rash on the hands and feet about 5-10 days after being bitten.
- Check yourself regularly for ticks and shower or bathe after potential exposure.
- If bitten, remove the tick by pulling it straight up with tweezers or between your fingertips if tweezers are not available.
- Get tested for Lyme disease if you are bitten by a tick or if those symptoms develop.
- If possible, place the tick in a sealed plastic bag and store it in a freezer for a few weeks in case disease symptoms occur – that way it can be tested if necessary.
Most people have mild reactions to insect bites, but some have severe allergic reactions that require emergency treatment. In addition, mosquitoes, which are very common throughout the country in the summer, carry diseases such as West Nile Virus or encephalitis.Many communities resort to pesticide spraying in order to kill mosquitoes, but it’s still up to individuals to protect themselves and children.
- Wear insect repellent, especially at night. Repellents with DEET are effective in preventing insect bites. If used on children, keep in mind it should only contain up to 30 percent DEET and should not be used at all on babies.
- Avoid going outside during peak hours like dusk and dawn when insects are more common.
- Wear long-sleeved pants and shirts during peak insect times.
- Avoid standing near nesting areas such as stagnant pools of water, garbage cans and gardens where flowers are in bloom.
- Don’t leave food, drinks, or garbage out and uncovered.
For a complete list of information on all types of insect bites including ticks and mosquitoes, please go to our website, www.emergencycareforyou.org. Also, check out our YouTube Channel , keyword: "Emergency Care For You."