Mosquitoes, fleas, ticks and even flies can carry diseases that cause some very serious problems. While most bites only cause an inconvenience, you should be aware of the symptoms that show a greater problem.
Most people know there is a connection between fleas and bubonic plague. With careful measures, we’ve managed to keep the incidence of this disease down. But that is not the only disease that can result from a flea bite.
Endemic Typhus: This disease can be carried by cats and rats, but the vector is the flea. Symptoms of this bacterial infection include tiredness, low grade fever, mild headache, joint pain and muscle aches. Some people will develop a rash, though it usually doesn’t last long. Treatment usually includes some form of antibiotic, based on symptoms and lab results.
Cat Scratch Fever: Cats carry the disease, but once again, fleas are the main source of the problem. Humans catch it from infected fleas or handling parts of a cat that has been bitten by the insects. As you can see by the name, cat bites and scratches may also cause the illness.
Symptoms include fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and an inflammation of lymph nodes. It is usually treated with antibiotics, and it is best if it is caught early.
Several diseases can be carried or transmitted by flies. Many of the diseases that follow natural disasters, like cholera and dysentery, are directly related. Sleeping sickness is also spread by this vector. The fly responsible for that is called the tse-tse fly.
There are a lot of diseases that can be carried by mosquitoes. Of the four listed, you’ve probably heard a little about three. These mosquito-borne illnesses can be very serious.
Dengue Fever: If you have just the fever, you’ll spend up to a month recovering. Fatigue, nausea, vomiting, severe headache, muscle and joint pain are the symptoms. Some people call it “breakbone fever” due to the intensity of the pain.
If you aren’t lucky, it will progress to Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever. This means your blood vessels start to leak, causing bruising as well as bleeding from the nose, mouth, ears and eyes. It kills 5 percent of those who develop it.
Malaria: This too can cause some serious pain. Fever and chills are major symptoms, though headache, sweating, nausea and vomiting are also symptoms. Over a period of time, malaria can be deadly. There is an ongoing campaign to prevent it and to protect people in mosquito prone areas from it.
West Nile Virus: We tend to forget about this one over the winter, mostly because the mosquitoes that transmit it are dormant and the birds that help spread it have gone south. This disease can strike other animals as well as humans.
Most people who catch it will not even know it. The symptoms mimic that of other common maladies. One percent of those who catch it will develop a serious neurological disorder. The symptoms for this include high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, disorientation, confusion, stupor/coma, tremors, muscle jerking, lack of coordination, convulsions, pain and possibly partial paralysis. It has been known to kill.
Yellow Fever: Symptoms include heart problems, bleeding, coma, decreased urine output, delirium, fever, headache, jaundice, muscle aches, redness of tongue, mouth and face, seizures and vomiting. The vomiting could contain blood.
There are three stages to yellow fever. The first has some of the milder symptoms above and lasts several days. A period of remission may occur, and most who have this disease are over it at this point in time. If not, then the nastier of the above symptoms will occur and with it multiple organ malfunction.
The most common disease caused by ticks is Lyme disease. In many, it is a mild infection but it can turn into a life altering situation if it is ignored. The first symptom is a round, red rash with a bull’s-eye in the middle. Treatment with antibiotics at this stage could prevent further symptoms.
But, left unchecked, it can cause arthritis, as well as muscle and joint pain. A few go on to have cognitive problems, sleep disturbances and fatigue.
As you can see, a lot of the insect life we’re used to can create problems for us if we aren’t careful. Keeping the insect population down in the areas you, your family and your pets spend most of your time can help prevent them. Also, wearing the proper attire when spending time outdoors is a good idea. A hat can help prevent tick bites and long sleeves/pants can help with the mosquitoes. Don’t venture outdoors in the early morning or evening, also. That’s when the mosquitoes are on the prowl.