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Ticks and mosquitoes and bees, oh my! / Get professional medical treatment for bites and stings


Ticks and mosquitoes and bees, oh my!

Posted by Mark Hosko, MD in Medical Education 24 Jun 2013

Here in East Portland, early summer brings warm weather and, as we begin spending more time outdoors enjoying the beauty of nature, we must also come face-to-face with its creepier side. Yes, it is bug season once again. While most bites and stings are annoying in the short term, some bugs carry an extra punch in their attack.

Bees, wasps and hornets defend themselves by stinging. In most cases, reactions to bee stings are relatively mild, but for some people, bee stings can result in severe allergic reactions. Hives, difficulty breathing and throat swelling are all signs of a severe allergic reaction to bee venom and require emergency medical care. In the case of wasps and hornets, the reaction can be life threatening. This is not because the venom is more powerful, but because these bugs can sting multiple times. Quick treatment with a strong antihistamine is necessary for severe bites.

Other bugs not only deliver an itchy bite, but also may pass along insect-borne viruses. Ticks are generally harmless, latching on and drinking their fill of blood before falling off. However, ticks can carry the chronic illness Lyme disease as well as serious diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Mosquitoes have been on the rise across the US and so has the illness they can carry, West Nile virus. Although West Nile produces mild symptoms for most healthy people, it can be very serious for older people and the immune-compromised. If you are bitten by a mosquito and notice symptoms such as fever, headaches or a skin rash, visit Portland Urgent Care as quickly as possible.

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