Every summer, we brace ourselves for the mosquitoes. They seem to multiply overnight and before we know it, they’re everywhere. Mosquitoes are more than just a nuisance; they can also transmit diseases like West Nile Virus and Zika Virus. But what about Skeeter Syndrome? Is there anything we can do to prevent or treat it? Keep reading to find out!
What is the Meaning of Skeeter Syndrome?
Skeeter syndrome is a rare condition that is characterised by severe itching and swelling. The exact cause of the condition is unknown, but it is thought to be related to an allergy or sensitivity to mosquito bites. The syndrome gets its name from the fact that it was first identified in children who lived in areas where there were high populations of mosquitoes.
Why Does Skeeter Syndrome Occur?
Skeeter syndrome is believed to be a result of an overreaction of the immune system to a female mosquito bite. According to WebMD, The body’s response to polypeptides present in the saliva of a female mosquito causes the syndrome.
What Happens in a Mosquito Bite?
Only female mosquitoes bite and feed on human blood. They do this in order to produce eggs. When a mosquito bites, it injects saliva into the victim’s skin. The saliva contains proteins that prevent the blood from clotting, as well as enzymes that break down red blood cells. Mosquito bite polypeptides (MBPs) are thought to play a role in these processes.
What are these mosquito bite polypeptides?
The polypeptides of different mosquito species can vary. A bite from one species can cause Skeeter syndrome, whereas a bite from another species may not cause any symptoms.
Polypeptides are small chains of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. Amino acids are joined together by peptide bonds, and polypeptides can range in length from just a few amino acids to several thousand. MBPs are a group of short peptides (6-10 amino acids long) that are found in the saliva of mosquitoes.
Skeeter Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms of Skeeter syndrome can vary from mild to severe. In most cases, the itching and swelling will begin within minutes of being bitten by a mosquito. The affected area may become red and swollen, and there may be small blisters or welts. In more severe cases, the swelling can spread to other parts of the body, such as the face, hands, and feet.
The symptoms typically start within 24 hours of being bitten by a mosquito and the most common sign is a large, red and itchy bump at the site of the bite. The itching may be so severe that it interferes with daily activities and sleep. Other symptoms can include:
- swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat
- difficulty breathing
- abdominal pain
- dizziness or lightheadedness
- joint pain
In very few cases, Skeeter syndrome can cause anaphylactic shock, which is a potentially life-threatening reaction.
Occasionally, a bug bite will cause anaphylaxis. A good number of people or family members would opt to enrol in an Adelaide CPR and first aid course to be prepared for untoward incidents caused by insect bites and stings. If you’d like to get the needed training in the workplace, send your enquiries to CPR First Aid (RTO 21903).
Who is At Risk?
Skeeter syndrome is mostly observed in young children and adults who have never been bitten by a mosquito before. It is also more common in people who live in or travel to tropical or subtropical climates. Some people are more vulnerable to Skeeter syndrome than others, such as:
- Babies and young children because of their lowered immunity.
- Individuals with immunity disorders
- Adults are bitten by a mosquito species they have never encountered before.
Skeeter Syndrome Treatment
There are a few different treatments for Skeeter syndrome depending on the severity of the reaction and the individual patient.
For mild reactions
Over-the-counter antihistamines can be effective in reducing itching and swelling. Natural home remedies for mosquito bites are also available.
Severe allergic reaction
If the reaction is more severe, oral or injectable steroids may be necessary to reduce inflammation.
In very rare cases, hospitalisation may be required for treatment with IV fluids and medications.
For patients who experience frequent or severe reactions, allergy shots (immunotherapy) may be recommended. This treatment helps to desensitise the individual to the proteins in mosquito saliva and can be very effective in reducing the severity of reactions over time.
How Common is Skeeter Syndrome?
This condition is relatively rare and therefore difficult to estimate its true frequency. However, a study conducted in 2010 found that Skeeter syndrome occurred in approximately 1 in every 3,200 mosquito bites in the United States. This number may be higher in other parts of the world where mosquito-borne illness is more common. Treatment for Skeeter syndrome is typically effective, so if you think you may have this condition, be sure to see a doctor as soon as possible.
Incidence in Australia
Skeeter syndrome is a significant public health problem in Australia, with around 3,000 cases reported each year. The majority of cases occur between November and April, coinciding with the peak mosquito activity.
Is Skeeter syndrome in Adelaide?
In Australia, the disease is most commonly found in tropical and subtropical areas. However, outbreaks have also occurred in temperate regions such as Victoria and South Australia.
In order to reduce the risk of infection, it is important to avoid mosquito bites by using insect repellent and wearing long-sleeved clothing. If you think you may have Skeeter syndrome, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment can help to reduce the severity of symptoms and shorten the duration of the illness.
How to Prevent Mosquito Bites?
You can take a variety of steps to help avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes:
Use an insect repellent
Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide long-lasting protection.
Wear long sleeves and pants
Cover up as much skin as possible to reduce the amount of exposed skin for mosquitoes to bite.
Stay in well-screened or air-conditioned areas
Mosquitoes are less active in cooler temperatures and will be less likely to bite if you stay in these types of areas.
Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors
This will help to keep mosquitoes away from your skin while you sleep.
Keep mosquitoes away from your home
Remove standing water, which is where mosquitoes lay their eggs, and repair any holes in screens to keep them out of your house.
There are vaccines available for both the prevention and treatment of mosquito-borne diseases, such as the Zika virus, dengue fever, and yellow fever.
Use mosquito traps
There are a variety of traps available that can help to reduce the mosquito population in your area.
Avoid being outdoors during peak mosquito biting hours
Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk, so try to avoid being outside during these times if possible.
In recent years, Skeeter syndrome, which originates from mosquito bites, has become an increasingly common health concern. Take precautions when travelling to areas with high mosquito activity. Take extra precautions to avoid being bitten if you’re going somewhere where there’s a chance that a mosquito could carry a disease. Be sure to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, use insect repellent, and stay in well-screened or air-conditioned areas.
For severe allergies from mosquito bites, asthma and anaphylaxis course at Level 1/174 Gilles St, Adelaide 5000 is offered by CPR First Aid, a leading provider of national, compliant and accredited first aid courses all over Australia. To find out about our other training centres near you, you may visit our locations page or feel free to contact us.