We’re all familiar with those pesky bug bites we get during outdoor summer activities. Sometimes, they can be worse than inconvenient. Besides causing allergic reactions or being poisonous, certain bugs can transmit diseases through their bites. This will result in the bitten or stung to receive more serious medical treatment. So what’s the difference between a regular bug bite and a trip to the hospital? It all starts with knowing which vermin nibbled on you in the first place.
If any insect is good at activating your histamines, it is definitely mosquitoes. A typical bite from just one of these pests results in a small and itchy little bump that forms in the place of that bite. Unfortunately, mosquitoes are one of the insects that can transfer disease through their bite. They can carry West Nile Virus. As scary as that sounds, most people don’t get severely affected by it. In fact, people don’t even experience the symptoms. Only about 1% of individuals will feel the full brunt of West Nile Virus.
Despite the small chances, there’s still a possibility that you or your child is part of that 1%. Some signs that someone has West Nile Virus are fever, swollen lymph nodes and headaches. Depending on the individual, the symptoms could get worse. It could range from sleepiness and a stiff neck to paralysis and a coma. If you or someone you know experiences any of these symptoms after getting bit by a mosquito, then go to the nearest hospital immediately. Try not to get too panicked about this, though. Remember that a very small portion of the population can be affected by this disease.
You’d be more likely to get malaria from mosquitoes carrying it. Mosquitoes like these are usually in places like Africa and South America, but there are certain areas in the U.S. where they can thrive. If you’re experiencing diarrhea, headaches, a skin rash, fever, body aches, or vomiting soon after getting bit by a mosquito, call your doctor immediately.
Ticks live on the ground in places that are moist and shady. That means that gardeners may be more acquainted with these little insects than other fans of the outdoors. Ticks can carry Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. It would be easier to tell if you’re affected by observing the bite left behind. Tick bites that have a target shape on them are an indicator of Lyme disease. This is especially if that bite maintains that shape for a month. Other symptoms include memory loss and swollen joints.
To tell if you have Rocky Mountain spotted fever, check to see if your bite comes in the form of a rash with red or black spots. If this rash spreads, you’ll need medical treatment. The same goes for any possible symptoms of Lyme disease.
These insects don’t really carry disease. They can, however, give you scabies. This is when mites burrow into your skin and lay eggs. It’s extremely itchy and contagious, which is why you would need to see a doctor right away. Also known as sarcoptic mange, scabies is easy to spot because it looks like acne.
Spiders don’t need to carry disease to be dangerous. Several common species of spider are poisonous.
- Black Widow: If you are bitten by a black widow, you may experience symptoms such as nausea, severe muscle cramps, and a numbness of the chest and stomach. If you know that you’ve been bitten by a black widow, it’s best to see your doctor, whether or not you feel the symptoms.
- Brown Recluse: Not everyone who gets bitten by these arachnids will be affected. However, those who do may experience swelling hours after being bitten. More extreme results can include fever, pain, nausea, or even seizures. These extreme results are when you should go seek medical attention.
Not all spiders are poisonous. This doesn’t mean that you’re completely safe after one bites you, though. Sometimes people can have an allergic reaction. When this happens, tell your doctor to update your list of allergies.
While a bee sting can hurt more than a bug bite, it can be more harmless. That is if the person who was stung doesn’t have an allergic reaction to bee stings. For some people, a bee sting could cause swelling, difficulty breathing, dizziness, nausea and hives. What’s worse is that bee stings could be fatal. Any allergic reactions to a bee sting must immediately be followed up by a hospital visit.
Symptoms to Look For
You may not always see which but bit you. Even if you can’t tell from what the bit looks like, certain symptoms can still warrant a trip to the doctor. Such symptoms include having a fever, headache, hives, or an infected bite.
Hives alone may not mean it’s anything serious and can usually be treated with antihistamines. If your hives are paired with a different symptom, then it may be more severe. To tell if a bite is infected, check if it starts getting red. You can also see whether the bite produces red, vein-like lines that spread outward. A doctor may help identify what insect bit you. It’s also best to go to a hospital if you have a history of severe allergies to bug bites.
Pay close attention to what happens soon or a while after a bug bite. Also, do what you can to prevent them from happening in the first place. Avoid areas where any of these bugs reside the most, use bug sprays, and wear long sleeves and pants. Preparation can reduce the chances of receiving a bug bite, but not completely prevent it. Whether you’re a concerned parent or love being outdoors, remember not to brush off what may look like a harmless bug bite. Even the ones that aren’t dangerous may still require topical treatment. Certain bug bites, if left alone, can still get worse or infected. When in doubt, you can always visit your nearest urgent care clinic.