Mosquito Bites, Diagnosis and Tips for the Family

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Warning to California residents....Please see the report by NBC News today as related to this post!

Mosquitoes!  Those pesky little bugs lurking to cause summer time irritation.  Most commonly found in the moist or heavily water populated areas of the world.  For the US, you are more likely to encounter mosquitoes in the Midwest, Southeast, Northeast or areas with heavy concentrations of long standing water. 
Mosquitoes are produced when the fertilized eggs are laid in standing water where they will hatch and grow into water organisms that feed from the algae in the water.  Once matured, the mosquito grows wings and is ready for flight, living in moist, tall grasses and water areas.  Male mosquitoes are only good for mating, which typically occurs immediately upon maturity.  Once the male has found a female, they typically only live a few hours after mating.
The female mosquitoes are the culprit for biting humans and animals in search for blood.  Female mosquitoes require protein to help produce eggs for reproduction and require the blood of a human or animal to assist in egg production.  The female uses sensors which alert them to body heat, CO2 (exhaled breathing) and chemical scents found in body sweat.  The female finds its victim and sticks a needle type stinger into the skin.  Injecting saliva into the opening to thin the blood, the mosquito then draws the blood into their body.
Many humans have an allergic reaction to the saliva which causes a red, itchy or irritated bump.  Some mosquitoes carry disease and parasites causing illness to humans and animals.  Some of these diseases include Malaria and West Nile Virus however most bites in the US are just irritating to humans.  However, it is wise to protect yourself and your family to avoid further complications and illness.
One of the most commonly used products in the avoidance of being bitten by many insects including mosquitoes is products with Deet.  Deet is a chemical that confuses the sensors of the mosquitoes preventing them from finding their victims.  Additionally, Deet causes asphyxiation in mosquitoes resulting in death.  The products using Deet as the active ingredient come in several strengths for effective use for longer periods of time.  There are other preventative products on the market that can be clipped on the clothing or natural oils that are a deterrent to the mosquito.   Once a person is done with their outdoor activities, they should wash off the product completely with soap and water to minimize the risk of ingestion.  As with all products, follow the directions on the product to ensure effective use and safety.  Additionally, a person can take further protection by wearing light colored clothing, wearing long sleeved shirts and long pants, tucking their pant legs into their socks and using large brimmed hats to reduce face and neck attacks.
Should a person be bitten, many products can be used to reduce the histamine at the site causing the itch and swelling.  Products like Benedryl or other anti-histamine over the counter drugs can be used to reduce the irritation at the infected sites.  Additionally, topical applications like After Bite and Calamine lotion can be used to reduce or stop the itching for a period of time.  Home remedies including warm/hot compresses on the affected site, warm/hot baths or a paste of baking soda and water can be applied to the site to reduce the itch.  Should these solutions not correct the issue within 3-5 days or if the sites become more irritated, one experiences fever, nausea or flu like symptoms you should seek professional medical help immediately.

Although most mosquito bites in the US are harmless, prevention should be sought after to keep disease spread to a minimum.  Remove standing water from around your home, change birdbaths and kids wading pool water frequently.  Reduce the time of your automated sprinklers to ensure the watered areas are not saturated with standing water.  Spray your yards with insect repellent to minimize the breeding of pests.
The comments written in this post are personal opinions and tailored to our specific situation only.  As with everything, you should do your own research to ensure you are protecting your family based on knowledge you personally obtain from professionals.  Seek additional information from your own doctors and contact your local county agencies for professional recommendations on your specific situation. 

Written by guest writer:  Tim Bosek COO, Field Trip Mom

You may find more information on mosquitos on these site:
Center for Disease Control - CDC
Learning About Mosquitos
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