Living in Louisiana, we are no strangers to pesky insects. Hot, humid days bring mosquitoes by the herds. A day spent outdoors can result in itchy bites from the flying nuisances if you’re not careful. In other cases, mosquito bites transmit viruses that can cause disease. Read on as we break down these bug bites.
Mosquitoes are active at all times of the day and can live inside and outside. According to the CDC, they prefer to stay in warm temperatures and enclosed spaces like garages, sheds, and under/inside homes. Mosquitos use standing water (birdbaths, clogged rain gutters, storm drains, pools, ponds) as a breeding ground. A little known fact: male mosquitoes don’t bite people, only females do. Females need blood in their diet to reproduce. They use tubular mouthparts to puncture the skin and feed on blood. As the mosquito fills itself with blood, it simultaneously injects its saliva into your skin. The proteins in the saliva trigger a small immune system reaction that results in an itchy bump.
The Mayo Clinic lists the symptoms of a mosquito bite as:
A puffy, white, and reddish bump that appears a few minutes after the bite
A hard, itchy, reddish-brown bump, or multiple bumps, appearing a day or so after the bite or bites
Small blisters instead of hard bumps
Dark spots that look like bruises
In some cases, mosquitoes can carry diseases. Viruses like West Nile, dengue, Zika, and chikungunya are common in the U.S. and the U.S. territories. If you plan on traveling, make sure you learn about CDC recommendations and health risks for your specific destination on their Travelers' Health website. There are certain vaccines available depending on where you plan on traveling.
After returning home, travelers should prevent mosquito bites as much as possible so they don’t spread foreign viruses to uninfected mosquitoes. If you show symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle and joining pain, and rash, be sure to see a healthcare professional as soon as possible. In the case of an emergency, call 911.
The CDC states ways to prevent getting bitten:
- Use insect repellent - Here is a list of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents that are proven to be safe and effective. Reapply every few hours.
- Cover up - Long sleeves and pants block the bugs!
- Keep mosquitoes outside - Air conditioning, window/door screens, and mosquito nets are common methods of blocking the pests.
Next time you venture out on a camping trip, kayak ride, or an afternoon in the backyard– don’t forget these tips!
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