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Summer Bugs
by Trino Medina, RPh
Doctors Renaissance Hospital Clinical Pharmacist, CVS Clinical Pharmacist
published June 2017

My fondest memories of summer have always been going to Buhl, Idaho as a migrant farm worker. We would leave in early May and return in late August. I didn't particularly enjoy the hard labor of plowing beets in the fields, but enjoyed the cool days off in the little town. The evenings were always cold even though it was summer.

I can't remember ever being bitten by a bug in Idaho! In contrast, my small town of Alamo, Texas is a different story where you find lots of mosquitoes, bees, wasps, ants, spiders, lice and ticks. The hot South Texas heat makes it a favorable environment for many bugs. It is important to know how to prevent and treat bug bites.

Many bites are mild and only require a person taking off the stinger, washing the area with soap and applying a steroid cream like hydrocortisone, sold over the counter. Some people get moderate reactions and require the addition of an oral antihistamine like Benadryl. Yet others have serious reactions to bug bites with symptoms like swelling of the throat and lips, nausea, respiratory problems, faintness, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, confusion and shock. If you or a family member experiences this you need to seek emergency help immediately.

Many adults and children known to have severe allergic reactions to bites fill prescriptions for epinephrine or EpiPen.

My sons and I went hunting at a friends ranch and could not find any deer, but came back infested with ticks. This bug attaches itself to your body and sucks as much blood as it can. We were able to remove them all with tweezers making sure to remove the head portion of the bug. Ticks carry a disease called Lyme disease that is a serious illness transmitted to human hosts. Fortunately my sons and I did not contract it.

Lyme disease has three stages starting with a rash around the bite, usually appearing three days to a month after bite. Secondly, the disease has symptoms such as fever, chills, fatigue, headache and joint and muscle pain. The third stage involves neurological symptoms and arthritis. One of my pharmacist friends almost died when he went hunting and came back with ticks that infected him with Lyme disease. He ended up at the hospital for a couple of weeks getting antibiotic treatments. He did survive but swears he will never go hunting again!

You don't need to avoid an enjoyable pastime, just be smart and wear insect repellent with deet, long sleeves that fit wrists closely, long pants tucked into your socks, and close toed shoes.

Enjoy your summer and don't let the bed bugs bite you!