One of the banes of the outdoors-man's trips through the woods, ticks spread throughout the warmer months and if infected, can transmit diseases if not removed. If not all of the tick can be removed, mark the calendar and if flu-like symptoms or a bull's eye rash develop within 14 days, visit a doctor.
Of all the pesky, biting insects abounding over the summer, the mosquito tends to reign supreme. Though bites from these bugs usually cause no more harm than an itchy bump, the West Nile virus is of concern when someone in an affected area exhibits high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, muscle weakness and paralysis, following a mosquito bite.
While hot and dry conditions have kept those pesky mosquitoes at bay, the same can’t be said for the rest of the season’s notorious creepy crawlies, whose bites can definitely be a lot worse than their buzz.
From the tiny, scurrying ticks that latch on after a hike through the woods, to the burning stings of flying beasties when clearing out the garage, insects can leave a very noticeable impression on their unsuspecting human casualties, and if left unchecked, could lead to serious concerns.
While most bites and stings are little cause for an alarm, local health care specialists point out several key pointers to look out for when deciding whether that red welt is worth a trip to the emergency room.
Though the mosquitoes might be grounded, the whole host of other winged, stinging insects takes flight over the summertime, bringing with it the potential for allergic reactions.
While Benadryl might nip a bee sting at the start in normal situations, for those who might be allergic, the experience can be vastly different without proper attention.
Usually, people severely allergic to such stings carry epinephrine to counter reactions, but if left untreated immediately, venom can ultimately drive patients into anaphylactic shock.
Though true anaphylactic shock is rarely seen by emergency medical workers — thanks to the predominance of epinephrine pens — the condition can be life-threatening without aid, said Maj. Jeremy Jeffrey of Mercy Regional Emergency Medical Services.
“In a true anaphylactic shock, their bodies start attacking itself,” he said. “We’ll see swelling, splotches of red all over and trouble breathing as their airways are starting to close down and close off. And if that closes off, it can be very dangerous.”
The epinephrine combats the severe reactions, but seeking medical attention following the incident is recommended.
As the summer months roll along, Dr. Erika Dallas of Dallas Medical Clinic said the majority of all patients who come into the clinic for treatment of insect bites are concerned about spider and tick bites.
“Patients seem to mostly be concerned about brown recluse spiders, but you almost never see them bite because it doesn’t hurt, initially, so they’re not sure if that’s what their reaction is from or not,” Dallas said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, brown recluse spiders cannot puncture skin on their own unless pressed against the skin, but bites can leave a white blister and cause a lesion on the skin that requires medical attention.
Though it’s important to play it safe and get the site checked by a medical professional, most spider bites can simply be remedied with ice to subside the swelling and over the counter pain medicine, Dallas said.
In reference to tick bites, foremost in most peoples’ minds this time of year is Lyme disease.
Usually spread by infected black-legged deer ticks — not normally seen across the state — University of Kentucky entomologist Lee Townsend said all types of ticks are emerging this year due to the warm weather.
According to the CDC, symptoms of the disease begin anywhere from three to 30 days following transmission and can include fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes and the tell-tale bull’s-eye rash.
“Most ticks don’t carry this disease,” Dallas said. “However, it is something to be concerned about and if someone is outside where there could be ticks, it’s important to check and get them out properly.”
After locating an embedded tick, Dallas recommended using fine-tip tweezers to remove the insect. Starting as close to the head as possible, it’s important not to rupture the body of the tick and potentially force toxins into the skin.
If someone is concerned about a insect bite, Dallas suggested visiting a physician if there is muscle pain around the bite, increased swelling from what would normally be expected, fever or if the injured site starts to drain material.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
Call Will Pinkston, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8676.