Entries in Bug Bites (2)


Watch Out for These Five Long-Weekend Health Hazards

(Brand X PicturesNEW YORK) -- For many people Memorial Day weekend means finally getting to kick off summer by striking up the barbecue, taking a dip in the ocean or simply basking in the sunshine during a long weekend.

But celebrating the unofficial start of summer also means encountering a few hazards of the season. From sunburns to bug bites or even an ill-cooked hotdog, the summer months have a few perils to contend with.

To help you avoid these pitfalls, we've put together a list of five health hazards for the summer months and how to avoid them.

After a long winter hibernation, it can be tempting to soak up as much sun as possible during a day at the beach or a picnic in the park, but experts warn that even a single sunburn can do lasting damage to the skin.

To enjoy the sun safely, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends using water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen, which protects against UVA and UVB rays, which has an SPF of 30 or higher.
Additionally, experts advise seeking shade from 10a.m. to 2p.m., when the sun's rays are the strongest.

Unfortunately water and sand can amplify the sun's rays, so be extra-careful during trips to the beach. And be sure to reapply sun block every two hours or after taking a dip in the ocean.

If you do get a sunburn, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends taking a cool bath, popping a few aspirin or ibuprofen to help lessen the swelling and redness, and drinking lots of water since a sunburn draws fluid from the body.

Insects that Sting and Bite
One consequence of enjoying the great outdoors is being assailed by various stinging and biting insects that only a beekeeper outfit could keep at bay. While many of these insects are merely a nuisance, for people who are allergic, they pose a clear and even deadly threat to their health. The American College of Allergies, Asthma and Immunology estimates that 2 million Americans are allergic to insect stings. That includes people who are at risk of having a potentially fatal reaction to the venom of certain insects.

More than 500,000 Americans end up in the hospital every year due to insect stings and bites, and they cause at least 50 known deaths a year.

Richard Pollack, a public health entomologist and instructor at the Harvard School of Public Health, says it's imperative for those who are allergic to insect stings to carry around an epi-pen, which can be used to easily inject epinephrine to help ease a severe allergic reaction.

"It does you no good to have it in your medicine cabinet if you're out and about [and get stung]," said Pollack.

In addition to life-threatening reactions from bee or wasp stings, warmer weather also means ticks will be actively looking for a host to feed off. Ticks can carry multiple diseases, including Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever.  

"If you're going to enjoy the outdoors, even just a backyard barbecue, you run some risk of acquiring a tick," said Pollack. "At the end of the day, do a tick check on yourself, children and even your pets."

To keep insects at bay during the spring and summer months, Pollack recommends using an insect repellent when outdoors and putting screens over your windows to keep out pests such as mosquitoes.

Food Poisoning
While enjoying a picnic or barbecue is one of the great traditions of Memorial Day weekend, getting ill from spoiled potato salad or a rotten deviled egg is one of the worst.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 48 million Americans become sick with food poisoning every year. Reactions to spoiled food can result in nausea, vomiting, fever or diarrhea.

To avoid any dietary mishaps this holiday, the CDC recommends that foods prone to spoiling not be kept unrefrigerated for more than two hours, one hour in extremely hot weather, and that meat is cooked to the proper temperature.

The United States Department of Agriculture even has a website dedicated to grilling safely, which explains the correct temperature for all your favorite summer meals. Hot dogs, for example, need to be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit or until steaming hot. The CDC recommends that whole meats be cooked to a temperature of at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit; ground meats cooked to 160; and poultry, 165.

Poison ivy
A hiking trip can be a great way to celebrate the long holiday weekend, but one brush with poison ivy and a fun holiday excursion can turn excruciating.

While many people know to avoid poison ivy's infamous "leaves of three," the American Academy of Family Physicians says if people accidently swipe the plant they can quickly wash the skin with soap and water to help minimize effects. The oily sap of the plant contains urushiol, which bonds to the skin after a few minutes of contact and over the next few days will result in an itchy-blistered rash.

If you end up one of the unfortunate ones who didn't spot the plant in time, you can use one of the recommended over-the-counter medications such as a hydrocortisone cream, Calamine lotion, an antihistamine or an oatmeal bath to ease the symptoms.

Pollen Allergies
For those with pollen allergies, spending Memorial Day outdoors can mean suffering through a host of unpleasant allergy symptoms from sneezing to itchy watery eyes. In some states the summer grass season is already gearing up before the spring tree pollen season has fully ended. Anyone allergic to both kinds of pollen should consider staying inside for the long weekend.

However, Dr. Andy Nish, a Georgia-based allergist and fellow of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, says people should try to avoid being out in the mornings if they have particularly bad reactions to grass pollen since the pollen count is usually highest during the early hours. Additionally, anyone who has allergies and is attending a barbecue may want to stay away from the grill.

"We know that other things [like smoke] can prime the nose and make it more sensitive to allergies," said Nish. "It can make [people] have a double whammy."

In addition to taking nasal steroids or over-the-counter medications, there are other steps allergy sufferers can take to lessen their symptoms. Nish recommends that people who are allergic to pollen change their clothes and take a shower when they get home so that the pollen isn't tracked indoors.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Asian Tiger Mosquito Spotted in Southern California

Aedes albopictus mosquito, also known as the Asian tiger mosquito, feeding on human blood. This mosquito is known to transmit West Nile virus. Kallista Images/GettyImages(EL MONTE, Calif.) -- The Asian tiger mosquito, a rare and dangerous insect native to Southeast Asia, made an appearance in Southern California last week, prompting action from local pest controllers and health officials.

The mosquito, known for its black body and white stripes, is capable of carrying several viruses, including dengue fever, West Nile virus and yellow fever. It is smaller than most mosquitoes and bites during the day, not just at night, and already has a foothold in the U.S. Southeast.

While it is unclear how the Asian tiger mosquitoes arrived in Southern California, no one has become sick since spotting the bug in El Monte, Calif. The San Gabriel Valley Mosquito & Vector Control District plans to fog the area where the mosquito was found as early as Friday.

District officials are going door-to-door in El Monte to educate the public on how to they can assist in fixing the problem.

“We’ll be making the best effort to eliminate the mosquito,” said Kenn Fujioka, assistant manager of the San Gabriel Valley Mosquito & Vector Control District. “It’s the risk to our public and the uncertainty how it will behave that concerns us.”

The Asian tiger mosquito made its first U.S. appearance when it surfaced in Houston in 1985 after being transported from Asia in old tires meant for recycling. The mosquitoes soon migrated to Florida, and now, more than two decades later, they can be found throughout much of the Southeast.

“People in other parts of the country aren’t able to eradicate the problem because the humid conditions are too favorable for the mosquito,” said Fujioka. “Southern California is too dry for them to take advantage of the environment so easily, so we have a better chance at fixing the problem.”

“The best way to control an area is to eliminate sources where larvae can develop,” said Fujioka.

Health officials urged residents to dump out any containers holding standing water, even very small amounts. The mosquito is known to lay eggs in small, water-filled holes like those in trees, asphalt and concrete. Dispose of any unused containers and tires stored outdoors and drill drain holes in the bottom of playground equipment. If residents in the area spot one of the bugs, officials recommend they call the agency.

“The bite will appear like any other bug bite,” said Fujioka. “If people are bitten by any type of mosquito and they develop headache, fever or rash five to seven days later, they should get in and see a doctor to rule out diseases transmitted through insects. It’s the risk we’re concerned about.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio