Mosquitos – What are they and what if they bite?

Mosquitoes are small insects that are common in the warmer months. Most mosquito bites cause pain, swelling, and redness that can be treated with diphenhydramine (Benadryl) cream and hydrocortisone cream (an over-the counter medication). If you have many mosquito bites on your body, you may also need to take diphenhydramine pills to help with the itching and swelling.

What diseases are transmitted by mosquitos?

Mosquitoes can transmit diseases such as West Nile Virus, Dengue Fever, Chikungunya virus, Yellow Fever, Malaria, and Zika virus. For many of these diseases there are no vaccines and no drugs available for treatment. Fortunately, most of these diseases are not common in the United States.

How many people get diseases from mosquitoes?

Approximately 700 million people worldwide get sick each year from mosquito transmitted disease causing as many as 1 million deaths each year. Malaria is a common cause of illness and death in Africa and Asia.

How do I prevent mosquito bites?

To prevent mosquito bites, you should use insect repellants with approximately 24% DEET or products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus. DEET should not be used on infants less than 2 months of age. Also, wear long sleeves and long pants. Use mosquito netting. Avoid areas standing water where mosquitos tend to breed and grow

FIRE ANTS

Solenopsis Invicta or “fire ants” are a wingless member of the order Hymenoptera, which includes wasps and bees. They live in large colonies that can be difficult to eradicate as they are resistant to control efforts. They are most common in the Southeast United States.

What happens when they bite?

Fire ants inject venom with their stinger when they bite. Bites from fire ants cause stinging (“fire”) pustules with blisters. These can be treated with gentle cleansing with soap and water, benadryl  and hydrocortisone cream.  Many patients develop hives that may last up to 72 hours, and some patients may have anaphylactic reactions to fire ant bites. Hives should be treated with cool compresses, elevation, antihistamines (such as benadryl), topical hydrocortisone, and oral steroids. Anaphylactic reactions should be treated at a medical facility and usually require IV antihistamines, IV steroids, and Epinephrine shots in the muscles of the thigh or IV.

CHIGGERS

Trombicula Alfreddegesi cause trombiculosis, more commonly known as chiggers. Chiggers are caused by the larvae of trombiculid mites that burrow into the skin and feed on skin cells.

What symptoms do they cause?

Chiggers cause red bumps on the skin that are extremely itchy.

What is the treatment?

Keep the skin clean and dry. Antihistamines for itching. Hydrocortisone cream for redness and itching.

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