Don’t Let the Bugs Bite

Mosquito-borne illness affects millions of people worldwide each year. Prevention can help keep you from being one of them.

Summertime in Texas provides the perfect breeding ground for mosquitos — hot and humid — and mosquitos can bite anyone taking advantage of the warm weather. Unfortunately, those bites can sometimes cause serious illness. Mosquito-borne illnesses you might find in our area include:

  • West Nile virus— Most people who have West Nile viruses will exhibit no symptoms, but one in five will have a fever along with symptoms such as headaches, joint pains, vomiting and rash.
  • Dengue feverPeople with dengue fever typically have a high fever along with at least two of these symptoms: a severe headache, a rash, severe pain behind the eyes, or muscle and bone pain.
  • ChikungunyaThe primary symptom of chikungunya is debilitating joint pain that can linger for several weeks.

“West Nile is our main concern, along with dengue fever,” says James Morgan, M.D., family medicine physician with Keller Family Healthcare, a Texas Health Physicians Group practice. “Chikungunya is a concern, though we haven’t seen as much of that. We do expect to see these illnesses every summer for the foreseeable future, given that our area has conditions that allow mosquitos to breed and spread.”

Anyone experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms who knows he or she has been bitten by a mosquito should bring their condition to the attention of a physician.

Prevention Takes Priority

“If people are going to be outside during peak times like early morning and early evening, wearing a mosquito repellent that contains DEET can help protect against bites,” Dr. Morgan says. “These can be used on everyone, all the way down to infants 2 months and older, although for infants only repellents with 10 to 30 percent DEET should be used.”

Other prevention methods include never leaving any standing water in your yard, including in birdbaths and old tires. Most cities have phone numbers to call if you suspect your neighbors aren’t keeping up their swimming pools properly, as a neglected pool can also provide an excellent mosquito breeding ground.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so using the DEET spray when you’re going outside is going to save you a lot of hassle,” Dr. Morgan says. “Rather than waiting to see if you get bitten, and then waiting to see if you catch anything, you can feel secure in knowing you’ve taken the necessary steps to protect yourself.”

To find a primary care physician who can oversee your health, visit THPG.org.

Physicians employed by Texas Health Physicians Group practice independently and are not employees of the hospital or Texas Health Resources.

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