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Mosquito Bites 101: June 24, 2013

Warm, wet and a wonderland for mosquitoes, June and July are typically the worst months for the bold blood-suckers.

“We live out in the country so there tends to be a big population of mosquitoes,” says Linda Price.

Price is a frequent target. They also favor her daughter.

“She gets bit a lot, especially down on the legs,” says Price.

As a biting mosquito fills itself with blood, it injects saliva into your skin. Proteins in the saliva trigger an immune system reaction that results in the itching and bump. But doctors warn their bite may be loaded with disease.

“You basically want to look for any signs of any fever, any night sweats, chills, if those things are happening you need to let your doctor know - or go to the ER immediately,” says Dr. Mala Singh, family practitioner with Lee Memorial Health System.

The breeds of mosquito that carry deadly encephalitis, West Nile virus and even dengue fever are all found flying in Florida. The young and old are most at-risk and should take care.

“The immune systems are lower in the elderly and in the young. So protective clothing, repellants like DEET, are important. Try not to stay outside once it gets dark because that’s when they really come out,” says Dr. Singh.

There is no simple blood test to detect mosquito antibodies and determine whether someone’s been infected by a diseased pest.

“We usually diagnose it by the history of exposure and the symptoms,” says Dr. Singh.

“I always put repellant on her if she’s outside playing especially at dusk time. So I try and make sure she’s protected,” says Price.

As they saying goes, an ounce of protection is worth a pound of cure.