When is a bug bite dangerous?

November 3, 2015

Insect bites can pose serious threats to human health by introducing venom, causing allergic reactions and spreading dangerous diseases. Understanding these threats can help you respond to a new bite correctly.

When is a bug bite dangerous?

Risks from venom

  • Some bugs frighten people for their ability to inject venom through their bite. In most cases, insect venom isn't sufficiently potent to cause serious damage or symptoms — but there are exceptions.
  • A bite from a brown recluse spider, for instance, may not kill you, but it can destroy tissues around the injury site while causing headaches, nausea, and fever.
  • Black window spider bites, while also usually non-lethal, can cause nerve damage.
  • It should be noted that children face a higher risk of serious or fatal illness from black window and brown recluse bites — if your child sustains one of these bites, seek emergency care immediately. Better safe than sorry!

Allergic reactions

  • A bug bite does not have to be venomous to cause a severe reaction. Many people are highly allergic to certain types of bug bites, such as bee stings.
  • A bee sting or other bug bite inflicted on an allergic person can produce hives, wheezing, itching and redness, facial swelling, or a life-threatening airway constriction.
  • Prompt treatment with antihistamines and other drugs can relieve these frightening symptoms.
  • If you know you are allergic to certain common insects, ask your doctor or allergist to equip you with an epinephrine auto-inhaler or other emergency medication, just in case trouble strikes far from a convenient medical facility.

Disease transmission

  • Even when a bite does not contain venom or create an allergic reaction, it can still cause illness through the transmission of dangerous diseases.
  • One of the infamous carriers of disease is the humble flea.
  • This insect's bite can also introduce tapeworms, typhus, and even bubonic plague into the victim's bloodstream.
  • Anaemia from blood loss is another possible issue when a small child or pet is targeted by a major flea infestation.
  • The flea's summer companion, the tick, is just as capable of spreading disease. Ticks are known for transmitting ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and other ailments.
  • If you have been bitten by a tick, you may wish to have yourself tested for these ailments, if only for your own peace of mind.

Hopefully you can go your entire life without experiencing serious consequences from a bug bite. Knowing what signs to watch out for can help safeguard your health on that possible occasion that the wrong bug finds its way to your skin.

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