The Dangers of Mosquito Bites
For most of us mosquito bites are just an itchy annoyance, but for those who are allergic or have compromised immune systems the symptoms and the dangers of mosquito bites can be far worse.
Mosquito Bite Allergies
Mosquito bites are usually red, itchy, slightly swollen places on the skin. For those with allergic sensitivities, the bites may swell larger and contain fluid. Symptoms can include nausea, cramps, diarrhea, and in the case of extreme allergy even anaphylactic shock and erratic heartbeat.
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Mosquito Bites and Children
Children often experience a more severe reaction to mosquito bites than adults because they lack the strengthened immune system of an adult. In areas of mosquito activity, baby carriages and strollers should be covered with mosquito netting. Mosquito repellents should not be used on children younger than two months.
Diseases Carried by Mosquitoes
In some cases, the dangers of mosquito bites are more serious than slight itching. Mosquitoes can carry several pathogens responsible for encephalitis (brain infection), meningitis (brain swelling), malaria, dengue fever, and yellow fever. In the United States, encephalitis related pathogens like West Nile virus are the most common, although dengue and yellow fever have been reported in smaller numbers. The Zika virus is the latest strain of mosquito-borne illness identified in the Americas.In four out of five cases, West Nile virus causes no symptoms and goes away on its own. However, the Zika virus is far more serious. Unborn children may suffer birth defects while in utero, and there is no vaccine or treatment for the virus at this time. The Chikungunya virus causes fever, joint, pain, muscle pain, headaches, and rash. Although documented in the Caribbean, there have been no reported cases in the United States thus far.
The female mosquito often feeds at dusk and dawn, but people can be bitten any time of the day. Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus are two species capable of carrying the Chikunguya, Dengue, and Zika virus. Culex pipiens is a species known to carry West Nile.