Insect Borne Diseases
Every summer, they come – the Mosquitos, the Wasps, the Hornets. We wonder if they bring some extra baggage with them. We have all heard of insect borne diseases, so what can we expect in our area of the country? Thankfully, we live in an area where these itchy little critters won’t make us too sick. Everyone has heard of Lyme disease with ticks, but here in all of Texas, we only see about 50 cases a year of this infection. We don’t need to worry about the ticks too much.
Mosquitos are the most common bearer of illness. In the South where we live, this can mean things such as West Nile, Dengue Fever, and Chicungunya. Fortunately for us, West Nile virus is the only one that we may need to worry about. Most people infected with West Nile virus – about 80%--will not get sick. Twenty percent of infected people develop a typically mild form of the disease (West Nile fever), which may include fever, headache, body aches, and occasionally a skin rash. Rarely will West Nile cause serious complications. Usually, the signs of West Nile will appear about 2 weeks after the mosquito bite and may last a few days. You are more likely to catch this when the mosquitos are out there – the summer months, and around standing water. By October 5th of this year, the CDC reported 26 cases of serious West Nile in the entire state of Texas.
So, although those little stinging insects are a pain for us all, we can be assured that they don’t carry a lot of extra baggage! I still would encourage everyone to use bug spray, however – those bites can be annoying! DEET containing bug spray is safe on older children and adults. Also, limiting time outside at dusk is a great way of avoiding mosquitos. Removing standing water sources, like puddles, can also limit the mosquito population in your area. Even if mosquitos, hornets and wasps don’t carry bad viruses, they are still a pain!
Dr. Stanton is a board certified Family Physician faculty member who sees patients of all ages at Lone Star Family Health Center, a non-profit 501©3 Federally Qualified Health Center operating facilities in Conroe, Spring, Willis, Grangerland, and Huntsville, and serving as home to a fully integrated Family Medicine Residency Program to increase the number of Family Medicine physicians for Texas and our community.