Mosquito bites

Symptoms of a mosquito bite are usually mild and temporary. Use an anti-itch lotion or apply a cool compress to relieve the immediate discomfort. If the skin area becomes irritated, you can apply a steroid cream or lotion to the skin to reduce the itching, redness, and swelling. Oral antihistamines can also be effective in reducing the symptoms of mosquito bites. The key thing is not to scratch. Scratching prolongs the inflammatory reaction.

Black fly bites

Black fly bites are extremely painful, and the injection of venom into the skin causes intense itching, local swelling, and soreness. Treat the bite as you would a mosquito bite. Severe complications (swelling) are possible in allergic individuals and, rarely, death from toxemia or anaphylactic shock from black fly bites have occurred.

Bee stings

If a bee stings you it will leave its stinger in the wound and go away to die, having left part of its nervous system behind. The stinger is a self-contained unit containing a barb to pierce the skin, a venom sac, and a set of muscles to push the barb and venom deeper into your skin. The stinger will continue to pump venom into your bloodstream for 20 minutes after it has been left behind. If you or someone near you is stung by a bee, act quickly – follow these steps!

  1. Look for a raised reddening area on the body where the victim has been stung. For multiple stings, look first at the head, neck and torso.
  2. Once you have located the sting area, look carefully for a small, dark object like a splinter. This is the stinger. Use a 4×4 inch gauze to wipe over the affected area, or scrape it using a fingernail. Do not squeeze the stinger or use tweezers to remove the stinger. If you squeeze the stinger in an attempt to pull out the stinger, you may cause more venom to be injected.
  3. If the victim is allergic to bee stings, ask if anyone around you has a bee sting kit. If not, call 9-1-1 immediately. You may be saving a life. If the victim is carrying an injectable adrenalin syringe, help them give the injection.
  4. If the victim does not know if they are allergic or says no, observe them carefully for the signs of anaphylaxis. If these appear, call 9-1-1 immediately. They should be transported to a physician for assessment as soon as possible.
  5. Observe multiple sting victims carefully for signs of distress.

    Almost everyone has been stung or bitten by an insect at one time or another. Besides being annoying pests, some insects can carry dangerous diseases such as malaria and yellow fever in certain parts of the world. Others, such as honeybees, can cause a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis in those sensitive to their venom.

    Mosquito bites

    Malaria is transmitted through mosquito bites; it is most prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa. However, it is also present other parts of the world, including Asia and Latin America. If you plan to travel to an area where malaria is prevalent, see your doctor to insure that you are properly protected before you travel. In North America, such problems are limited; however, there have been several encephalitis scares in Florida, and West Nile virus is a concern even in parts of Canada. It should be noted that mosquitoes have not been known to transmit HIV, as the virus neither survives nor replicates itself in mosquitoes.

    Black fly bites

    Black flies will crawl into hair and under clothing often biting in inaccessible places such as the ankles and beltline. All exposed parts of the body are open to attack, though they tend to favour the head, just below the hat rim. Black flies are not known to transmit diseases to humans.

    Bees, wasps, and hornets

    Stinging insects such as bees, wasps, and hornets will sting in self-defense while foraging or to protect their nests. The stinger is a modified egg-laying apparatus, so only females can sting. Stingers are effective weapons because they deliver venom that causes pain when injected into the skin. The result is a very painful sensation, which begins as a sharp pain that lasts a few minutes and then becomes a dull ache.

    Written and reviewed by the MediResource Clinical Team