This week’s topic is “Bugs”. Insects are all around us, especially in summer. Some insects are pleasant, like butterflies and fireflies. Others, like mosquitos, fleas and ticks (not really insects, but I’m including them anyway) carry diseases and cause discomfort.
Mosquitos are a real nuisance. Their bites are itchy and annoying. They also can infect people with the West Nile virus, Chikungunya virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus and even a few more. The good news is that while these infections can be serious, they are quite rare. It’s always good to be informed and know how to protect your family. Here are a few good rules to follow:
- Apply an insect repellent on exposed skin and clothing. The CDC recommends a variety of safe and effective repellents (CDC.gov) for you and your family
- Cover up! Wear long sleeves and long pants
- Avoid mosquitos. Mosquitos often bite between dusk and dawn so limit your time outdoors during these hours
- Clear your yard of standing water---empty wading pools after using, remove water from flower pots, pet dishes, pool covers, bird baths, buckets, etc.
- Repair or insert screens to keep mosquitos out of your home.
- Don’t forget pets. Mosquitos can cause heartworm infections in dogs/cats. Use appropriate medications prescribed by your vet.
Bees are also an unpopular insect. Sure they make honey (good thing) but “Ouch” being stung really hurts! Avoiding bees is a good idea. If you are unlucky enough to be stung, here are a few things to do to feel better. Remove the stinger if you see it at the bite area. Take a dose of Ibuprofen and apply ice to the sting. If you are experiencing any severe symptoms such as increased heart rate, swelling of lips/throat, dizziness, hives, difficulty breathing—call 911 right away. If you have a known bee allergy and have an Epi pen, use it immediately and then call 911.
Ticks are another annoying part of summer. Ticks are actually not insects but arachnids, like spiders. Ticks carry diseases like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Tularemia, Lyme Disease and several other diseases. Luckily, these diseases are not common in Ohio but their incidence is increasing. Ticks are usually found in high grass or wooded areas. To protect your family from ticks it is important to wear long sleeves and long pants when in these areas. It is also important to tuck shirts into pants and tuck pants into socks. This will make it more difficult for the ticks to bite. It is also a good idea to do “tick checks” on your children every night if they have played in areas where ticks are found. Ticks need to be attached for 1-2 days before they can transmit disease so a tick attached for less than a day will not cause infection. Don’t forget the insect repellent since this might also help keep ticks away.
Article written by Sue Gaston, M.D.