Tick, mosquitoes, bed bugs … they're practically everywhere yet we may not need to see them much less notice them. It's only until we already see some rashes on the skin which make us assume they're telltale signs of their bites. Normally, they're really not much of a bother.
But it's when they transmit or cause diseases or other health problems that we should be bothered about. Especially when you're living in an area where there's known activity by any or all of them. Let's deal with them one by one.
Deer Ticks and Lyme Disease
Ticks, specifically deer ticks, are known to carry and transmit Lyme disease to people. Commonly found in grassy or woody areas, a tick that is not detached to its host is harmless. But once it has attached itself to the host, taken its blood meal, and becomes engorged, that's when the terror starts as it spreads bacterial infection.
The most common sign of a tick bite is a swollen rash that expands up to 8 inches in diameter over multiple days. Multiple rashes may appear but the bull's eye appearance is the most common type. It appears as a red rash that gets lighter in color as it gets to the center which also has concentric rings on it.
The symptoms of Lyme disease generally appear within a month after the bite. The symptoms are similar to colds or flu such as fever, muscle and joint pain, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes.
Mosquitoes and West Nile Virus
Mosquitoes can transmit West Nile Virus if they initially fed on birds infected with the virus prior to biting humans. Basically the virus does not exhibit any symptoms of illness. If any, symptoms appear within 15 days after the bite which include fever, body pains, headache, swollen lymph nodes, and skin rash. Symptoms of severe infection may include convulsions, paralysis, tremors, stiffed neck, high fever, and coma.
Bed Bug Bites and Physiological Problems
Bed bugs are tiny, wingless insects that harbor in the beds, bed frames, furniture, and cracks and crevices. Unlike mosquitoes and deer ticks, bed bugs do not transmit any life-threatening disease. But its impact of infestation can just be as damaging as the other two, if not more.
Bed bugs feed on human blood and their tiny flat bodies become engorged after a 5-minute full blood meal. People will not notice the actual feeding since their saliva contains substances capable of numbing the skin. And it's only until a few days after the bite that you'd start noticing red, itchy welts and rash. The bite itself is not dangerous. But if you scratch endlessly and like crazy, the area may develop an open wound which can lead to bacterial infection. Also, the psychological trauma of bed bug bites has led people to become paranoid of being bitten by bed bugs when none of them are even around.
Preventive Measures Against Ticks, Mosquitoes and Bed Bugs
Wear shirts with sleeves and long pants tucked in your socks whenever you're walking in grassy or wooded areas to prevent tick and mosquito bites.
When you come from woody or grassy areas, check yourself, your kids, or your pets for ticks. And immediately remove them if you find any.
Once you see a tick attached to your skin, immediately remove it gently using a pair of tweezers grabbing it around its head or mouth. Be careful not to squish or squeeze it.
Use insect repellants with 10-30% concentration of DEET and apply it to your skin and clothing. This should not be used on infants and young children.
Drain all standing water from puddles, ditches, kiddie pools, gutters, tires, or anywhere you find it which could be possible breeding grounds of mosquitoes. Better yet, dispose of all tires and empty containers that may collect water during heavy rains.
Limit your time outdoors during late afternoon when mosquitoes are most active.
Keep your windows and doors closed at all times and fix all holes in the screen to prevent mosquitoes from entering your house.
Avoid using secondhand furniture and bed to prevent bed bug infestation.
When traveling, be sure to detect any sign of bed bug activity in the hotel room and never leave your luggage or clothing on the floor or bed. Once you get home, be sure to check for these hitchhikers again and see if there's any bug clinging on your luggage.
These pests certainly have their way of getting on the nerves of people and as much as we want them to be completely eliminated from the society, we can not. So we must be vigilant in preventing them from striking us and our loved ones by following these practical precautions.