Tennessee Bugs that HurtThere are a lot of bugs out there in the world that do nothing but look weird and freak us out. However, there are a number of bugs here in that actually do pose a danger to humans either through carried diseases or poisonous bites. So from West Nile to the Brown Recluse here is a pretty good run down of Tennessee bugs that can cause a little hurt.

This article from the Murfreesboro Post (middle Tennessee) highlights a handful of the bugs that you need to be concerned over.

For years I tended to not worry too much about being bitten by mosquitoes, ticks or other common insects.

For years I tended to not worry too much about being bitten by mosquitoes, ticks or other common insects.

Although I considered the bites a nuisance, I didn’t pay much attention to the need for protection from these aggravating pests.

Times have changed, though. Now we all should be paying heed to the warnings from experts to avoid being bitten by local ticks, mosquitoes and spiders.

The most common pesky bites come from mosquitoes. In our area some mosquitoes are carriers of the West Nile Virus. Each year local health departments will confirm through testing that a small percentage of local mosquitoes are carrying West Nile virus.

Not all mosquitoes carry the virus. The question is whether you really want to play the mosquito lottery. It is impossible to know which ones carry the virus and which do not.

There is no reason to panic, but caution and prudence is advised. Even those that are bitten by a mosquito carrying West Nile have a relatively small chance of becoming seriously ill.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), West Nile virus will cause a fever and flu like symptoms in about one out of five people who are infected.

For some unfortunate victims, however, the disease can be serious or possibly even fatal. Fortunately less than 1 percent of those infected will be subject to the serious neurological illness (meningitis or encephalitis) that can be fatal.

However, the outcome of the serious consequences of the disease can be so tragic that it is a good idea to use repellants wisely.

Many people are also concerned about Lyme disease after a tick bite.

In our area Lyme disease can be transmitted by a tick bite and can be a very serious disease, but it is still very rare. Although the problem is significant in Northern states, in the South is it not a widespread. Less than a dozen confirmed cases are reported on average annually in Tennessee.

However, Lyme disease can be very serious if an infection occurs. Widespread arthritic pain and other symptoms can go on for years. Treatment with antibiotics is necessary if Lyme disease is confirmed.

The disease is carried primarily by deer ticks, which can be identified as a small tick with a black spot on their back.

Although many people including some health care providers believe that another tick known as the Lone Star tick also carries Lyme disease, the CDC refutes this belief. The Lone Star tick can be distinguished by a white spot on the back.

Although it does not carry Lyme disease, the Lone Star tick has been implicated in causing severe red meat allergies that can result in serious illness.

Tennessee ticks also may be carrying Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Although the name Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) may lead one to assume it is primarily a problem in Western states, in fact Tennessee is one of the states where the disease is more widespread.

As the name implies, people that have been infected will often have an occurrence of a rash that is associated with wide spread red spots. The illness can be very severe or possibly fatal in some individuals.

A couple of common spiders can be a problem for Tennesseans. The Brown Recluse spider is quite common in businesses, homes, storage sheds and other buildings in the area.

As the name implies the brown recluse tends to avoid people and will only bite if injured. This can happen accidentally in beds, furniture, when putting on shoes or boots or in other circumstances. If the spider cannot escape and a body part ends up pressing against it, a bite can occur.

Brown recluse spider bites can cause local tissue damage that can result in permanent loss of tissue. It is very rare that wide spread damage occurs.

Black widow spiders can be found around household foundations, under rocks and logs and in other outdoor places. These spiders are a deep glossy black with a bright orange or red hourglass shape on their underside.

Contrary to legend, black widow bites are not likely to be deadly and rarely cause permanent damage to the victim. The bite can cause very severe pain and other symptoms that can last for a week or more however.

Taking the time to teach family members how to avoid being bitten by these insects is the best plan to avoid the potentially serious consequences of a bite.

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