Bites and stings are relatively harmless and not detrimental to your long-term health. But there are some specific risks that should make you vigilant in trying to prevent them.
Some ticks, for example, can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever; others can transmit Lyme disease. Spider bites and bee, wasp and hornet strings are painful, but usually not life-threatening. But some people can have a potentially fatal allergic reaction to stings, and some spiders, such as the brown recluse and female black widow, are poisonous enough to be very dangerous. In addition, there is the growing danger of West Nile virus, which is transported by some mosquitoes and can cause serious problems in people with compromised immunity.
When it comes to animal bites, snakes are usually the first culprit that comes to mind. And though not all snakes are poisonous, a snake bite should often be viewed as a medical emergency. Bites from other animals can put you at the risk of developing rabies, among other illnesses, so it always pays to have any bite checked out by a medical professional.
Prevention and Treatment of Bites and Stings
Considering some of the risks, it’s best to take preventive steps to avoid dangerous bites and stings. With things like snakes, animals, and bees, wasps and hornets, avoidance is the best form of prevention. Take great care to not confront animals in the wilderness and wear appropriate clothing when in dense woods to protect your body.
Avoiding other types of insects is often more difficult, but you can protect yourself by using insect repellant properly. You can also use mosquito netting when camping outdoors and even get clothing and camping gear that is treated with permethrin to keep bugs at bay.
Checking your body and hair for ticks at regular intervals while outdoors is a good way to minimize their risk. And, of course, keep an eye out for any unusual bites or stings, as well as any out-of-the-ordinary symptoms that begin after you get one. The symptoms vary, but if you experience any medical symptoms after receiving a bite or sting, it’s worth a visit to a doctor to ensure that you haven’t developed an illness.
SOURCES: U.S. Food and Drug Administration; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention