The Buzz on Battling Pesky Summer Bugs
Summertime pests can disrupt even the most festive outdoor celebration, so it pays to know what to look for when an uninvited visitor comes along. Most bites and stings are gone within a few days but some bug bites may cause severe reactions and can even be life-threatening.
When working or playing outdoors, it is important to keep your eyes peeled for mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers, spiders and winged stingers. Pesky summer insects bite to defend themselves, to get food or to reproduce. Young children, older people and those with compromised immune systems are most at risk for developing adverse reactions to bug bites.
Mosquitoes are one of the most common insects in the world. They usually can be spotted from late spring to early fall and they particularly like to visit at dawn and dusk. Mosquitoes thrive in warm climates and near water which can both help sustain their larvae (newly hatched insects). You can only get bit by a female mosquito because male mosquitoes do not bite.
These pests carry many diseases and some of these pests could even be carrying one of the most deadly viruses—West Nile virus. “In the United States, West Nile virus has been a concern in many areas since 1999 and is continually worrisome for many Americans,” said Donna Wood, Practice Leader of Clinical Operations at Quorum Health Resources (QHR). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recorded 45 deaths from West Nile in 2010.
If you are bit by a mosquito and then develop a fever, muscle weakness or other unusual symptoms, these can signal West Nile. Seek medical treatment immediately if you experience any of these symptoms after being bit as West Nile can cause death if it enters the brain.
Ticks are classified as parasites, an organism that claims nutrients from another host. They can transmit bacteria that cause serious medical issues and sometimes death. Ticks embed into the skin, ejecting their toxins as they feed on the host's blood. Some of the diseases that they carry are particular to certain geographic regions including Lyme disease which was named for the Connecticut town where cases were first identified in the mid-1970s and Rocky Mountain spotted fever which is common throughout North and South America.
"The deer tick that carries Lyme disease looks like a dark speck on the skin. The CDC recorded about 30,000 confirmed cases in 2009," says Joan Lewis, MSN, Nurse Manager at Three Rivers Health. "People who live in the areas where deer ticks are most active should do routines skin checks, especially from late spring through summer. About 95 percent of the cases have been reported from just 12 states. The Lyme disease hot spots are Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Delaware, Maine and Virginia."