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Pest-free playtime


Protect your kids from summer insects and their infections.

By Gwen Reyes-Amurao, M.D.

 
MARCH 2012 



The warm, sunny weather of summer is a come-on for our kids to enjoy their natural surroundings, especially the great outdoors which can become their own wonderful natural playground. But even the most attractive spots of Mother Nature may also be a sanctuary for insects that can bite or sting your child. Here are some creatures you may encounter–and should guard against–this season:


Bees and wasps

Upon stinging, bees leave their stingers with their venom sac in the skin. Remove the stinger as soon as possible: experts recommend using a flat surface to scrape off the stinger since pulling it out with tweezers may cause more venom from the sac to be excreted when the stinger is squeezed. Wasps do not leave their stingers, and are capable of stinging more than once, unlike bees.


Ants

Ants are almost always found in picnic areas and beaches, where they are attracted by even the tiniest crumbs. They usually feast on leftover food or spilled drinks, even decaying plants and animals. Beware of red ants (especially the red fire ants) because they always bite, unlike the black ants which do so infrequently.


Fruit flies

Fruit flies are viewed as relatively harmless. But these flies breed from decaying food and if not found at picnics or barbecues, are often found hovering over garbage bins without lids. They are thus carriers of different types of bacteria, which they spread when they flit from one uncovered dish to another.


Ticks and fleas

Fleas will often bite, while ticks can attach themselves on the surface of the skin without you knowing it. Bites from these creatures often last up to several weeks. Children often have allergic reactions, characterized by a rash, to saliva from these pests. Ticks and fleas are also known carriers of Lyme disease, relapsing fever and tick-borne meningoencephalitis. If your children show signs and symptoms other than the bites, it is best to consult a doctor, and a vet for your pet.


Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are known carriers of diseases such as dengue and malaria. Day-biting, they usually start feeding two hours after the sun rises until two hours before it sets. According to the American Entomologic Association, warm, active children are excellent targets since they can be detected as far as 50 meters with the mosquitoes’ sense of smell. Different oils, lotions, sprays and anti-mosquito patches have been produced and proven effective against these highly adaptable insects.


Spiders

Spiders are found both indoors and outdoors. While their venom is usually not very toxic to humans, a bite usually produces slight swelling, redness and itching. Like bees, they will not bite unless they sense danger involving themselves, their egg sacs or their young.
 

For more on these summer critters and tips on how to deal with them, get your copy of HealthToday’s March issue, out now in bookstores and newsstands.







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