They are the down-side to summer: mosquitoes. Across the Midwest, doctors are seeing more and more patients with bug bites and scratched open sores.
Nothing ruins a summer vacation faster than a swarm of mosquitoes. For Jess Potter and her two kids Ben and Claire, a trip to the park isn't complete without taking steps to thwart the little blood-suckers.
"We spray them up before they go outside and just hope that the bugs don't eat them!" Said Potter.
With two active kids, it's hard to keep them from playing outdoors. Unfortunately, that also means a run-in with a skeeter or two
"They spent the weekend at the lake and they got eaten alive! They were wearing long sleeve clothes with spray on it but there's just really not much you can do they're bad this year!" Said Potter.
After a wet spring, Ben and Claire aren't the only kids scratching mosquito bites. Doctor Sam Schimelpfenig, a pediatrician with the Avera Medical Group McGreevy, says he's seen plenty of patients with a variety of itches and sores.
"They run the whole spectrum from your little local spot that kind of itches and you scratch at it to some kids get some pretty big reactions to it." Said Dr. Schimelpfenig.
Dr. Sam says scratching is the biggest concern, because that can lead to the bites becoming infected. Parents should also make sure that the bite isn't causing other problems.
"If kids are otherwise acting sick and it started off as a bug bite but now they've got a fever and headache and chills and muscle aches and flu like symptoms really, those are good reasons to bring your kiddo in too." Said Dr. Schimelpfenig.
Mosquitoes aren't much different than people and tend to buzz around during the cooler hours of the day. Which could put a damper on your trip to the playground.
"We're the type of parents that like to have their kids outside so we kind of push them or to be outside to enjoy this weather and so sometimes it is easier to keep them inside but mostly we just kind of deal with it and put the spray on them and make them go out and tough it out." Said Potter.
Dr. Sam agrees with Jess. To him, a good bug spray is just as important as sunscreen. Any skin that's exposed should be sprayed down if and when you're family is going to be outside.
"DEET up to about 30% is what you're looking for and kids we don't recommend anything higher concentration of DEET than 30% but at least some concentration of DEET in there and then applying it as often as they indicate on the label which is usually at least every couple hours." Said Dr. Schimelpfenig.
Ever since their weekend on the lake both Ben and Claire have become good bug spray ambassadors.
"They have learned the hard way and they're really good about reminding us to if we forget they are on us to put on some spray and make sure that they don't have to deal with the scratching and all the sores." Said Potter.
So for now, the Potters have the Benadryl and anti-itch cream on standby. But it's plain to see that a few bugs won't be what stops these kids from enjoying their summer.
Mosquito bites also have the potential to spread West Nile Virus. However, the most at risk are the very old and the very young. Bug spray doesn't make you immune, but it does lower your chances of being bit. For more information on bug bites just call 877-AT-AVERA.