Chicago ranked No. 2 worst city for mosquitoes
Chicagoans, it’s time to grab your fly swatters and bug spray.
Orkin, a leading pest control expert, recently ranked Chicago number two for worst U.S. cities for mosquito bites based on the number of people the company serviced for mosquitoes in 2014. Atlanta took home the top spot, followed by Chicago, Washington D.C., Detroit and Raleigh-Durham.
“Although the loss of blood rarely causes issues, it’s somewhat common for people to develop skeeter syndrome, an allergic localized reaction to the saliva of the mosquito,” says Dr. Emelie Ilarde, a primary care physician with Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill.
Skeeter syndrome commonly referred to as “mosquito bites” causes a rash of swollen red bumps. This will develop within hours of a bite and in some cases they are accompanied by a fever. Treatment includes over-the-counter antihistamines and steroid cream.
“However, if the swelling interferes with vision, food or drink intake, or movement, then your doctor should be called so an oral steroid can be prescribed,” says Dr. Ilarde.
The rash is often itchy, but try not to scratch as opening the skin at the bite site may cause an infection.
“If you do scratch, make sure to wash the bite and apply a topical antibiotic to prevent cellulitis,” says Dr. Ilarde.
Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the skin that requires treatment with antibiotics.
While the allergic rash is usually just a nuisance, the diseases the mosquitoes carry are the real health concern.
“While going from host to host sucking blood, mosquitoes can transmit harmful diseases and infections such as dengue, West Nile virus and the Chikungunya virus,” says Dr. Ilarde.“When traveling to other countries, you could also be at risk for yellow fever, malaria, japanese encephalitis, and lymphatic filariasis.”
Dr. Ilarde, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Orkin recommend these seven tips to protect against mosquito bites:
- Use an EPA-approved insect repellant on all exposed skin when outdoors.
- Wear long sleeves, pants, and hats when outdoors to leave less of your skin exposed, which helps to protect you from mosquito bites and, as a bonus, from the harmful rays of the sun.
- Mosquitoes only need a few inches of water to breed, so empty bird baths, gutters and overflowing flower planters. Avoid activities near standing water.
- Make sure the screens on your windows and doors fit snugly to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home.
- Keep your swimming pools clean and chlorinated.
- Use citronella candles and apply an outdoor fogger or mosquito repellant to your yard.
- Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk, so try to avoid outdoor activities at that time.
About the Author
Kate Eller was a regional director of public affairs and marketing operations for Advocate Health Care. She enjoys road trips, dogs, minimalism, yoga, hiking, and “urban hiking.”