Insect stings and bites Symptoms

  • Symptoms

    Insect stings or bites may cause a short-term skin reaction or trigger a more widespread allergic response Figure 03. In the majority of cases, an insect sting or bite hurts for a little while. There may even be some swelling and redness at the site that usually goes way within a few hours. In a hypersensitive person, however, hives can appear within minutes of a sting or bite. A large (more than 10 centimeters or more in diameter), red, painful swelling lasting anywhere from two to five days might also occur. A person who is extremely sensitive could develop swelling in the tongue, eyes, or throat, and have a hard time breathing. Nausea, faintness, heartbeat abnormalities, and loss of consciousness are other serious consequences.

    Tick infections produce flu-like symptoms, including fever, chills, fatigue, muscle pain, and headaches. Body aches and pains, fever, and headaches are traits of many illnesses. Because tick bites are not painful and typically happen in obscure places like behind the ears, on the scalp, or in the groin area, people may not even realize that they have been bitten, and attribute their symptoms to other things.

    While rash is a common feature of tick infections, not every case produces one. Rocky Mountain spotted fever sometimes brings out a rash that starts as flat, pink spots on the wrists and ankles and spreads to the palms and soles of the feet and eventually to the trunk. A tell-tale sign of Lyme disease is the so-called bull’s eye rash (a large round red spot with a white center) around the bite site that accompanies flu-like symptoms. Ehrlichiosis and babesiosis may not involve the skin; these tend to produce severe headaches and nausea and vomiting.

    Symptoms of The Most Common Tick Infections Disease Carried by... Symptoms Rocky Mountain

    Spotted Fever
    Wood ticks Fever, headache, rash within a few days of infection.
    Dog ticks Lyme Disease Deer ticks Bull’s eye rash, flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, fatigue, muscle pain), stiff neck, sore throat within a month of infection. Ehrlichiosis Deer ticks Fever, severe headache, chills, body aches and pains, nausea and vomiting within 2 weeks of infection. Lone Star ticks Babesiosis Deer ticks Fever with night sweats, nausea, headache within six weeks of infection.
    Click to enlarge: Bite from a tick

    Figure 03. Bite from a tick

  • Risk Factors

    Geography plays a role in insect stings and bites Figure 04Figure 05. Despite the name, just 2% of people who get Rocky Mountain spotted fever live in the Rocky Mountain area. The illness has been reported in every state in the country. Lyme disease, named after the Connecticut town (Old Lyme) in which it was first discovered, affects New Englanders mostly. However, the illness has been reported up and down the east coast as well as in the mid-Atlantic and midwestern regions of the country. One type of ehrlichiosis is prevalent in the same places as Lyme disease, and the other shows up in southeastern states. Babesiosis rears its head in northeastern vacation spots such as Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and Fire Island. Scorpions reside in Florida and in the southwest. The southern states are infested with fire ants, and colonies have been seen in New Mexico, Arizona, and California as well. Bees and other flying insects are prevalent throughout the United States.

    Time of year is another factor in insect stings and bites. April through September is prime tick season. Stings from bees, yellow jackets, hornets, wasps, and ants more commonly occur during summer months.

    Click to enlarge: Distribution map for fire ants within the US

    Figure 04. Distribution map for fire ants within the US

    Click to enlarge: Distrubution map for Lyme disease

    Figure 05. Distrubution map for Lyme disease

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