My Kid Minute: The Doc Smitty & what you need to know about mosquitoes
Plagues aren’t upon us, but mosquitoes are
Baby frogs like funny dogs. Baby hogs like daddy’s dogs.
That’s how I remembered this:
Blood, frogs, lice, flies, disease, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, death.
You might ask, why was I learning the order of the plagues? Obviously, for a bible quiz game we used to play in Sunday school. Because I’m ultra-competitive, even when it comes to Sunday school.
The recent weather in North Texas has many questioning if we are witnessing plagues or if the Apocalypse is upon us.
Fortunately, it looks like the worst of the drenching rain (and hopefully the flooding as well) are behind us. As the waters recede, the rising threat will be mosquitoes and mosquito borne illness.
What’s the big deal with standing water?
Standing water is the breeding ground for mosquitoes. There are four stages of life for mosquitoes. The adult flying stage is the only one that does not rely upon water for survival. The eggs, larva and pupal stages must live in standing water.
Any standing water - water in a bird bath, pond or standing water from improper drainage can be a place for mosquitoes to breed.
Why do mosquitoes bite?
Female mosquitoes bite because they need a source of protein before they can produce eggs. Otherwise, like males, they can feed on nectar or sap.
When females bite, their long mouthpart breaks through the skin and gets into the small blood vessels just underneath. They also inject a small amount of saliva into the wound to make entry easier and to keep the blood from clotting.
What harm do bites cause our children?
Local reaction - While not technically an allergy, some kids will have a large local reaction with swelling and redness at the site of mosquito bites. These can be itchy and cause distraction in school or lack of sleep when severe.
Local infection – It’s not uncommon to see local infection in kids who have scratched mosquito bites, leaving a gap in skin, which can lead to infection. If the swelling worsens after the first few days or if there is significant warmth from the site of the bites, you should see your pediatrician to see if antibiotics are necessary.
General infection - Because mosquitoes can carry diseases, bites from mosquitoes can transmit infection that can affect the entire body. Mosquito borne illnesses cause over one million deaths world wide, most commonly from malaria. Two other diseases that we have seen in Texas associated with mosquitos are West Nile Virus and Chikungunya.
Given the amount of rain and the season, mosquitoes will be inevitable this summer season. Read more here about the many different ways you can reduce your child’s risk of discomfort and serious illness: How to fight (and) win against mosquitoes.
Justin Smith is a pediatrician and the Medical Advisor for Digital Health for Cook Children's in Ft. Worth, Texas. He has an active community on both Facebook and Twitter as @TheDocSmitty and writes weekly for Cook Children's checkupnewsroom.com. His interest in communications started when he realized that his parents were relying more on the internet for medical information. He believes that strategic use of social media and technology by pediatricians to connect with families can deepen their relationship and provide a new level of convenience for both of their busy lifestyles. Dr. Smith’s innovative pediatric clinic, a pediatric clinic “designed by you,” is set to open in Trophy Club in the fall of 2016.