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Bites and stings from scorpions, spiders, snakes and mosquitoes

Scorpions:

The Arizona Bark Scorpion is the most venomous scorpion in the U.S.  Although fatalities are rare, severe reactions can be life threatening. A severe reaction is more common in children and adults with compromised immune systems, so seek emergency care immediately.

Bark scorpions are able to crawl up walls and on ceilings, so look for them everywhere.

Safety tips: 

  • Check your home to see if you have scorpions, including your child's room and bedding (use a black light during the night.) 
  • If you have scorpions, you will need to start a search and destroy mission. 
  • Keeping the bed away from the wall, making sure that the covers don't reach the floor, and putting the legs of the crib in glass/plastic jars can help.
  • Use a lightweight piece of cardboard or foam core board one size larger than the crib and hang it several inches from the ceiling to serve as a scorpion shield, preventing scorpions from dropping into the child's crib.

Spiders:

A black widow spider is a small, shiny black button-shaped spider with a red hourglass mark on its abdomen and that prefers warm climates. Widow spider bites release a toxin that can cause damage to the nervous system, thus, emergency medical treatment is necessary.

If it is possible to kill or capture the spider without further harm to yourself or your child, it is important to do so. Place the spider in a glass jar or plastic container so it can be positively identified.

Tip:

  • Learn to recognize the messy white webs of the Black Widow spider. Even if the spider is not in the web she is close by - so keep children away from the webs.

Mosquitoes: 

West Nile virus is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected female mosquito. The mosquitoes acquire the virus through biting infected birds. Crows and jays are the most common birds associated with the virus, but at least 110 other bird species also have been identified with the virus.

Usually, the West Nile virus causes mild, flu-like symptoms. However, the virus can cause life-threatening illnesses such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord), or meningoencephalitis (inflammation of the brain and its surrounding membrane).

How to protect yourself from mosquito bites:

  • Use age-appropriate insect repellent and make sure to follow the manufacturer's recommendations.
  • When suitable, wear clothes that cover the whole body.
  • Peak times for mosquito bites are between dusk and dawn, so take extra precautions during these times.
  • Drain standing water. This is where mosquitoes lay eggs.

Snakes:

Each year, approximately 8,000 people receive bites from venomous snakes in the United States, mostly between April and October. Even a bite from a nonvenomous snake can cause infection or allergic reaction in some people. The most important thing to remember for snake bites is to treat all snake bites as if they were venomous and get to a hospital emergency room as quickly as possible, especially if you are unsure of the exact type of snake responsible for the bite. With the correct treatment (or antivenin), severe illness and/or death can be prevented. (Antivenin is an antitoxin specific to the venom of a particular animal or insect). 

Only about five percent, or roughly 25 species of snakes in the US are venomous. The most common venomous snakebites are caused by:

  • Pit vipers--rattlesnakes, copperheads and cottonmouth (water moccasin) snakes
  • Coral snakes

Rattlesnake bites cause most of the venomous bites in the US.

Safety tips:

  • If you live in one of the newly developed areas you should be aware of danger of rattlesnakes. 
  • During the spring and fall check your yard before letting children out to play.
  • If you find a snake, leave it alone. Stay away from it.

   

Important Note: This material has been developed for your information only and should not take the place of medical advice or consultation with a personal physician.

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