Stop Bugging Me!

Prevention is the best medicine for those pesky bites and stings.

Mosquito bites and bee stings are annoyances we all put up with, but those itchy and aggravating bites can be hazardous to your health, especially when you’re on the road.

People who already have health problems are at a greater risk for susceptibility to these diseases, but anyone who is bitten by a mosquito that carries disease is in danger. Mosquitoes can carry serious diseases such as encephalitis and the West Nile virus. Encephalitis can cause neurological damage, paralysis and death. West Nile virus can cause flu-like symptoms and is also fatal if left untreated.There are many preventative measures you can take to avoid mosquito bites. Because mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn, wearing mosquito repellant at those times can greatly reduce your chances of being bitten. It is important to apply repellant to all areas of exposed skin. Some repellants that contain DEET can give up to five hours of protection, but if you are not being bitten, it is not necessary to constantly re-apply repellant. However, it is important to wash off repellants as soon as possible to avoid overexposure. If repellant isn’t handy, wearing long-sleeved clothing and using screens over open windows can also help. Limiting outdoor activities after dark and keeping doorways tightly sealed can prevent mosquitoes from entering your truck when you are sleeping.

If a mosquito bites you, wash the infected area with soap and water as soon as possible. It is important to avoid scratching, even though the irritation is bothersome. Scratching a bite will only heighten the risk of infection and prolong the itchiness. Remedies to lessen itching include pastes combining water with baking soda or water with meat tenderizer.
Rubbing these mixtures onto your skin will lessen both itchiness and appearance of the bites.

Stings from wasps, yellow jackets and bees can also cause major problems. Severe allergic reactions can occur in some cases, and it’s not always easy access to find medications that treat such problems. About two million people in the United States are severely allergic to the venom stinging insects produce. More than 100 people die from stings each year, and that’s not including deaths from spider or snake bites.

Stings are different from most bug bites because the venom they produce can cause damage to the respiratory and circulatory systems, creating problems with breathing and the heart, called anaphylactic shock. Although for most of us, an insect sting’s only ill effect is a few hours of redness and pain, for one person out of 100, insect stings can be fatal.

Some symptoms may indicate a more serious reaction to insect sting venom. These include swelling of the hands and face, dizziness, diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever, coughing and difficulty breathing. If any of these symptoms occur, go to an emergency room visit.

Reactions to stings are usually at their worst within 30 minutes of the sting. It’s always a good idea to ice down the effected area and keep an eye on the swelling.

The key to taking care of these annoyances is preventing them. Wear bug repellant when you’re out after dark and when you’re sleeping in the open air. Be cautious when bees and wasps are around, and don’t leave open soft drinks unattended, as the sweet liquid will attract unnecessary and unwanted pests.

Bee Smart!

  • More than 100 deaths occur annually from insect stings.
  • Stings can severely damage your respiratory and circulatory systems, causing anaphylactic shock.
  • Beware of symptoms including swelling of the hands and face, dizziness, diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever, coughing and difficulty breathing.
  • If you are stung, keep ice on the effected area and watch the swelling to be sure it doesn’t increase.
  • Mosquitoes can carry diseases like encephalitis and the West Nile virus.
  • Wearing mosquito repellant at high risk times can greatly reduce your chances of being bitten.
  • Wash off repellants as soon as possible to avoid overexposure.
  • Wear long-sleeved clothing and use screens over open windows to prevent bites.
  • Limit outdoor activities after dark, and keep doorways tightly sealed.
  • Don’t scratch bites, even if you want to. Scratching can lead to serious infection.

—Kathryn Tuggle