Illnesses from Bug Bites Triple

Posted on: June 12, 2018

A new report out from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the number of illnesses from mosquito, tick and flea bites have tripled in the U.S. from 2004 to 2016, topping 650,000 cases.

Jeff Mullins, MD, a family medicine physician with Methodist Medical Group, says the biggest problem with insect-borne illnesses is that most are viral. Antibiotics can’t treat viruses, so you have to let it run its course.

"Unfortunately with a virus, we don’t have a miracle drug,” said Dr. Mullins. “The best we can do is to treat the symptoms and make people as comfortable as possible while they wait for their immune systems to fight off the virus.”

Dr. Mullins says it is important to take preventative measures. He suggests when you spend time outside, avoid standing water and make sure to use insect repellent. Wearing long sleeve sleeves and long pants as well as closed toe shoes can also help prevent you from being bitten.

“You can buy clothing and shoes that have already been specially treated with the repellent permethrin to help keep you from being bitten,” said Dr. Mullins.

Another option is to have your yard sprayed with an insect repellent. 

Dr. Mullins stresses the importance of immediately performing a tick check as soon as you come inside. If you find a tick on you that may have been there for more than 24-hours, you'll want to be on the lookout for symptoms such as headache, rash, fever and aches and pains, that might signal a larger problem. If one or more of these symptoms arise after any insect bite, that’s when you should seek medical treatment.

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