If one thing can put a damper on an otherwise fun-filled summer in Austin, TX, it’s dealing with mosquitoes. These pesky pests are a fact of life, but that doesn’t mean that you have to resign yourself to being perpetually bitten up. There are ways to reduce the risk of being bitten in the first place. However, when and if you are bitten, it pays to be aware of potentially serious symptoms that may develop from those bites.
Mosquito Bite Basics
Female mosquitoes are responsible for all mosquito bites. Unlike males, they need the extra protein that comes from feeding on blood. After finding a suitable target, the female pierces their skin to feed on their blood while simultaneously injecting small amounts of saliva. This saliva is responsible for the telltale itchy, raised bumps that are considered to be normal symptoms of being bitten. Unfortunately, this saliva is also sometimes infected with viruses like West Nile virus and dengue fever.
Symptoms of Mosquito Bites
Common signs of mosquito bites include:
- white, puffy, reddish bumps that develop shortly after being bitten
- small blisters
- reddish-brown bumps
- dark, bruise-like spots
Some individuals, including small children, adults who haven’t been exposed to a particular species of mosquito and people with immune system disorders, may develop more serious symptoms, including:
- low-grade fever
- large areas of redness and swelling
- swollen lymph nodes
In extreme cases, mosquito bites may trigger high fever, body aches, headache and signs of infection. In those who suffer from so-called “skeeter syndrome,” these symptoms may be joined by anaphylactic shock. Fortunately, this reaction is extremely rare.
Tips for Preventing Mosquito Bites
Like most things, it’s much better to avoid being bitten by a mosquito than to deal with the symptoms of a bite after the fact. Since mosquitoes are a fact of life in and around Austin, it pays to take steps to avoid being bitten before heading out the door. Some particularly useful ones include:
- Use Repellent – Make sure that it contains DEET, picaridin or icaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Apply it liberally over all exposed parts of the body.
- Treat Clothes – Treat clothes with permethrin, an insecticide and repellent.
- Cover Up – Wear long sleeves, long pants, hats and other protective gear if you must be in a mosquito-infested area.
- Clean Up the Yard – Clear the yard of debris. Eliminate areas of standing water, which is where mosquitoes lay their eggs.