Buzz buzz baby (first aid tips for insect bites and stings)

May 10, 2014

orange blossom beeWe see bees often here in Southern Arizona – especially when spring is in full bloom. But with bees come the chance of swarms and stings.

We primarily have Africanized bees… but, for the most part, they leave humans alone unless someone disturbs a hive or is in the wrong place at the wrong time.

A few years ago Bill and I were out in the front yard doing chores and heard — then saw — a swarm of bees coming down the middle of our street. The swarm then flew across our neighbor’s yard (across the street from us) so we figured it went into the wildlife corridor behind their home.

The next day we discovered the bees were hanging out in our neighbor’s mesquite tree so they called a bee removal team.

Before the team arrived Bill took this great pic of the bee mosh pit. And yes … the below bee ball is solid bees! Then the swarm flew away just before the removal team showed up.

bee ball

Since spring has sprung in many parts of the world, we wanted to share some basic first aid tips about insect bites & stings in general.

Things to watch for…

  • Stinger (Note: honeybees leave a stinger and venom sac)
  • Puncture or bite mark
  • Burning pain or Swelling
  • Allergic Reaction – Pain, itching, hives, redness or discoloration at site, trouble breathing, signs of shock (pale, cold, drowsy, etc.)
  • If a mosquito bite – watch for signs of West Nile Virus (most symptoms appear 2 to 15 days after being bitten)… Mild flu-like symptoms – fever, headache & body aches, Mild skin rash and swollen lymph glands, or Severe symptoms – severe headache, high fever, neck stiffness, confusion, shakes, coma, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis, meningitis or encephalitis

What to do…

  • Move quickly and calmly away from area if there is a swarm, hive or nest nearby.
  • If a bee sting, remove stinger(s) by scraping it away with credit card, knife or long fingernail. Don’t try to squeeze it out with your fingers or tweezers since this causes more venom to get in the victim.
  • Wash the wound with soap and water or rinse with hydrogen peroxide.
  • Cover with a bandage or clean cloth and apply ice pack or cold compress.
  • Watch for allergic reactions for a few days (see above).

To relieve pain from an insect bite or sting:

Activated charcoal – Make a paste using 2-3 capsules and a small amount of warm water. Dab paste on sting site and cover with gauze or plastic to keep it moist. This will help draw out venom so it collects on your skin. Note, powder makes a black mess but easily wiped off with a towel

Baking Soda – Make a paste of 3 parts baking soda + 1 part warm water and apply to the sting site for 15-20 minutes.

Clay mudpack – If in the wilderness, put a mudpack over injury and cover with bandage or cloth. The mudpack must be a mix of clay-containing soil since clay is the key element, but don’t use if any skin is cracked or broken.

Meat tenderizer – Mixing meat tenderizer (check ingredient list for “papain”) with warm water and applying to the sting will help break down insect venom. (Papain is a natural enzyme derived from papaya.)

Urine (Pee) – Another remedy useful in the wilderness sounds gross (but has a history of medical applications in a number of cultures) is urine (pee) which reduces the stinging pain. Unless you have a urinary tract infection, the pee will be sterile and at the least won’t do any harm.

Some other potential pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory remedies:

  • fresh aloe – break open a leaf or use 96-100% pure aloe gel
  • lemon juice – from a fresh lemon
  • vitamin E – oil from a bottle or break open a few gel capsules
  • store brands – if over-the-counter methods preferred, use calamine cream or lotion and aspirin or acetaminophen

Things to do to avoid mosquito bites …

  • Stay indoors at dawn, dusk, and early evenings when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.
  • Spray clothing and exposed skin with repellent containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) – the higher % of DEET, the longer you’re protected from bites (6.65% lasts almost 2 hours; 20% lasts about 4 hours, etc.) Two other repellents are picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  • Don’t put repellent on small children’s hands since it may irritate their mouths or eyes.
  • Get rid of “standing water” sources around yard and home since they are breeding grounds for skeeters.
  • The CDC says Vitamin B and “ultrasonic” devices are NOT effective in preventing mosquito bites!
  • Learn more about West Nile Virus

 

Above extracted from IT’S A DISASTER! …and what are YOU gonna do about it? A Disaster Preparedness, Prevention & Basic First Aid Manual by Bill & Janet Liebsch


Cool but weird sea critters (and new Oceanographic channel coming to Wisecast TV)

August 23, 2013

Pink Sea-Through Fantasia sea cucumber Laurence Madin / Woods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionOur good friends and partners at Wisecast Television are launching a new XPLORE Channel called “The Oceanographic”, a free 24-hour channel dedicated to showcasing the work and purposes of many organizations involved in oceanography and related ventures.

Wisecast TV’s new Oceanographic channel, sponsored in part by Fedhealth, will offer programming from dives and new technologies to studies of ocean dynamics that help satisfy underwater curiosities and empowers viewers to understand more about the ocean realm.

In honor of this channel, we wanted to share some cool and strange sea critters in today’s Friday Fotos segment.

lizard island octopus photo Julian Finn / Museum Victoria

Photo: Julian Finn / Museum Victoria via ScienceIllustrated

Back in 2010 scientists from 80 nations collaborated to assess the diversity and abundance of species in the world’s oceans, undertaking 540 expeditions and countless hours of research. The Census of Marine Life, which took over a decade to complete, contains observations on more than 120,000 marine species, from giant squid to 38,000 types of bacteria found in one litre of seawater. The above Lizard Island Octopus is just one striking specimen discovered at the Great Barrier Reef.

Blob sculpin Photo: NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center

Blobfish (Photo: NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center) via NatGeo

The blob sculpin’s name may not be flattering but it does capture a bit of the animal’s essence. The 2-foot-long (60-centimeter-long) fish is rather reclusive and not often seen, but blob sculpins have been known to dote on their young. Scientists have observed males guarding rocky seafloor nesting sites, filled with hundreds of pale pink eggs, in mile-deep waters off the California coast.

sharp-toothed pacu fish Photo: Henrik Carl

Photo: Henrik Carl via Latimes.com

A sharp-toothed pacu fish was recently caught in the Danish-Swedish strait of Oresund, putting swimmers on edge because of its resemblance to a piranha. But Scandinavian fish experts say this fish is a mostly vegetarian cousin of the piranha munching on fruits, nuts and the occasional fish or small invertebrate. But its human-like teeth are sharp enough to chomp through a fishing line or even a finger, according to a release put out by the university. They also have advised swimmers that if they do venture in the water they should “keep their pants on.”

sea critters-leafy-sea-dragon photo by DCL

Image Credit: DCL

Leafy Sea Dragon is one of the few sea creatures with its own built-in camouflage. The tiny fins that are used to propel our leafy friend forward are impossible to see, giving the illusion that you are merely watching some seaweed lazily float by. So the next time you see a chunk of seaweed … notice the beauty of it, yes. But also notice that you may just be witnessing one of the weirdest sea creatures in the world.

sea critters-banded piglet squid photo by seathos

Photo: Sea-Thos

The Banded Piglet squid swims “upside down” compared to other squid, leaving him resembling a Muppet with his tentacles as the hair, the syphon as the nose, and his patterning appearing to be a smile. These cute little guys live at least 100 m below the surface. Because of those incredible depths, it has to create its own light from the photophores underneath its eyes. Unfortunately, because it lives so far down, not much is known about its life cycle or eating habits.

See more strange sea creatures on Discovery Science, NatGeo and The Daily Green … and learn more about Wisecast TV and their free IPTV channel offerings at www.wisecast.tv.

Stay safe and have a great weekend everyone! 🙂 j & B


Bed bugs totally suck…

May 6, 2013

bedbugDid you know U.S. nursing homes, hospitals and even ambulances are increasingly plagued by … bedbugs..?!?

Marketwatch.com reports more than a third of pest management companies treated bedbug infestations in hospitals in 2012, 6% more than the year before and more than twice as many as in 2010, according to a survey released today by the National Pest Management Association.

The percentage of exterminators dealing with bedbugs in nursing homes has also almost doubled since 2010, to 46%. Bedbug experts also report seeing them in ambulances.

The Center for Disease Control explains bed bugs are not known to spread disease, but they can be an annoyance because their presence may cause itching and loss of sleep. Sometimes the itching can lead to excessive scratching that can sometimes increase the chance of a secondary skin infection.

This is especially problematic in hospitals, where there is a greater likelihood of catching the highly potent and contagious staph infection known as MRSA, says Dr. Jorge Parada, medical director of the infection prevention and control program of Loyola University Health System in Chicago. “You don’t need one more ingredient to increase your risk of infections in the hospital,” he says.

Bed bugs are small, flat, parasitic insects that feed solely on the blood of people and animals while they sleep. Bed bugs are reddish-brown in color, wingless, range from 1mm to 7mm (roughly the size of Lincoln’s head on a penny), and can live several months without a blood meal.

Bed bug infestations usually occur around or near the areas where people sleep. These areas include apartments, shelters, rooming houses, hotels, cruise ships, buses, trains, and dorm rooms.

They hide during the day in places such as seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, inside cracks or crevices, behind wallpaper, or any other clutter or objects around a bed. Bed bugs have been shown to be able to travel over 100 feet in a night but tend to live within 8 feet of where people sleep.

What are the signs and symptoms of a bed bug infestation?

bedbug bites

One of the easiest ways to identify a bed bug infestation is by the tell-tale bite marks on the face, neck, arms, hands, or any other body parts while sleeping. However, these bite marks may take as long as 14 days to develop in some people so it is important to look for other clues when determining if bed bugs have infested an area.

These signs include:

  • the bed bugs’ exoskeletons after molting,
  • bed bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets,
  • rusty–colored blood spots due to their blood-filled fecal material that they excrete on the mattress or nearby furniture, and
  • a sweet musty odor.
bed bug colony

Bed bug colony

Treating bed bugs

If you suspect that you have an infestation, contact your landlord or professional pest control company that is experienced with treating bed bugs.

dog searching for bedbugsThere are even companies with highly specialized Bed Bug detection Canines, who can detect Bed Bugs when humans cannot, and more efficiently so affected areas can be treated before infestations spread.

Methods currently used to combat bedbug infestations include freezing, extreme heating, vacuuming and pesticides.

The best way to prevent bed bugs is regular inspections to watch for the signs of an infestation.

Non-toxic remedy

HealthDay News reports a centuries-old bedbug remedy of using kidney bean leaves to trap bedbugs may offer a model for a non-toxic, modern-day treatment.

Microscopic hairs on kidney bean leaves stab the insects, effectively trapping them, the researchers discovered. They are using their findings to develop non-toxic synthetic materials that will mimic the effects of the bean leaves and help prevent bedbug infestations, according to the report, published online April 9 in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

The age-old Balkan treatment involved scattering kidney bean leaves on the floor next to beds to ensnare the blood-thirsty critters. Within seconds of stepping on a leaf, the bugs were trapped. Microscopic hooked hairs on the leaves, known as trichomes, stab the bugs’ legs and immobilize them, the researchers explained.

kidney bean leaves trap bedbugs

Basically … learning the bean leaf’s secrets could help researchers create a bio-inspired reusable bug trap that would avoid chemical solutions — and it won’t dry out after just a few days like a leaf.

Learn more about bedbugs at CDC.gov and Bed Bug Central.

Stay safe, sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite..! 🙂 j & B


West Nile Virus: Signs, symptoms and prevention tips

August 21, 2012

West Nile Virus signs, symptoms and prevention tipsWest Nile virus (WNV) is making headlines again due to recent outbreaks around the country.

WNV is primarily spread by mosquitoes that feed on infected birds. But realize, out of 700+ species of mosquitoes in the U.S.(and 74 species in Canada), very few – less than 1% – become infected with WNV.

A vast majority of people (4 out of 5) infected with WNV won’t show any symptoms at all. For those that do, the virus usually causes fever, aches and general discomfort.

Severe cases can cause inflammation of the lining of the brain or spinal cord (meningitis), inflammation of the brain itself (encephalitis) or a polio-like syndrome that can result in loss of function of one or more limbs (WN poliomyelitis or acute flaccid paralysis). These conditions can be life-altering or fatal.

People of all ages could develop serious health effects, but seniors and individuals with weakened immune systems are at greatest risk.

Things to watch for…

(Most symptoms appear 2 to 15 days after being bitten)

Mild flu-like symptoms – fever, headache, sick to stomach (nausea) and body aches

Mild skin rash and swollen lymph glands

Severe symptoms – severe headache, high fever, neck stiffness, confusion, shakes, coma, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, paralysis, meningitis or encephalitis

What to do…

  • There is no “cure” other than a body fighting off the virus naturally – mainly just watch symptoms.
  • Consider boosting immune system to help fight virus (like taking astragalus, Vitamin C, garlic, mushrooms, zinc, good multiple vitamin + mineral supplement, etc. – but check with doctor if taking prescription medications).
  • If mild symptoms appear, keep watching person for a few weeks in case symptoms get worse.
  • If severe symptoms appear, get medical attention quickly since it could become deadly.

Things to do to avoid mosquito bites …

  • Stay indoors at dawn, dusk, and early evenings when mosquitoes are most active but realize mosquitoes can bite anytime (including throughout the night).
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.
  • Spray clothing and exposed skin with repellent containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) — the higher % of DEET, the longer you’re protected from bites (6.65% lasts almost 2 hours; 20% lasts about 4 hours, etc.) Two other repellents are picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  • Don’t put repellent on small children’s hands since it may irritate their mouths or eyes.
  • Get rid of “standing water” sources around your yard and home since they are breeding grounds for mosquitoes. For example, drill a hole in tire swings so water drains out and dump water out of kiddie pools, buckets, flower pots and other items esp. after rainstorms. And change out water in pet dishes often and bird baths weekly.
  • The CDC says Vitamin B and “ultrasonic” devices are not effective in preventing mosquito bites.

Download more first aid and disaster preparedness topics from our IT’S A DISASTER!… book here

Additional Resources:

CDC’s West Nile page  www.cdc.gov/westnile

CDC NCID’s Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases  www.cdc.gov/ncezid/dvbd

Public Health Agency of Canada’s Infectious Diseases  www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/id-mi/

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