During the summer, it's common to spend more time outdoors, whether it's on a patio, at a ballpark or on a hike. However, in spending more time outdoors, you put yourself at risk for bug bites and stings. Add to that the fact that warm weather brings out more bugs and you're bound to be at battle with them this summer.
It's important that you're aware of diseases that you, or your family members can be exposed to when stung or bit by an insect. Read below for insect-related diseases you should know.
- Dengue Fever: Rarely fatal, dengue fever is known to be both painful and debilitating. Symptoms of the fever include fever, headache, eye pain, muscle and joint pain and bleeding. Most often, symptoms will last 4-7 days. While there is no treatment for dengue fever, quick diagnosis and symptom management prevents complications.
- Lyme Disease: Transmitted to humans by the bite of infected ticks, Lyme disease can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system. Symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, fatigue and rash. If a tick has bitten you, remove the tick, clean the area of the bite with rubbing alcohol and get rid of the tick (never crush it).
- West Nile Virus: Considered an endemic in the U.S., West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne virus that can result in headache, fever, pain and fatigue. An estimated 80% of those infected with the virus are asymptomatic, so you may not even know you have it. In severe cases (less than 1%), those infected may develop meningitis and encephalitis.
- Zika Virus: Only 20% of those who contract Zika show symptoms. In fact, the illness typically resolves within a week. When symptoms are present, they may include body aches, headache, eye pain, low-grade fever, joint pain, rash and vomiting. The virus has also been linked with microcephaly, a condition in which a newborn baby's head is smaller than normal as a result of abnormal brain development.
While bites and stings are often unavoidable, there are many ways you can protect yourself and your family. Be sure to always wear insect repellant, cover your skin when possible and avoid areas where standing water is present. If you or a loved one was recently stung or bit and is suffering from any of the symptoms above, it's important to seek medical attention quickly.
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