Urgent Care - Gardendale
210 Fieldstown Road, Suite 124
Gardendale, AL 35071

Insects and medical problems


In the last few years there has been increasing attention paid to the impact of various insect species on our health. Among the major players in this are ticks, moquitoes, spiders, and bed bugs. The following are some brief summaries and suggestions about living alongside these bugs that bug us:


Ticks carry multiple diseases, the most well-known are Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF). There are a multitude of sources of information for these on the internet but here are some factoids worth knowing:

-most people diagnosed with Lyme never saw a tick and more than half never have the classic rash.

-Lyme has become known as the "great pretender" of the 21st century as was syphilis in the 20th century because it can assume so many different forms

-the average time from symptoms onset to diagnosis of Lyme is 3-4 weeks even with improved information. so often the symptoms are vague and generalized.

-the typical target rash of Lyme "erythema migrans" is caused only by the bacteria of Lyme disease and is therfore "pathognomonic", ie., only Lyme causes the e. migrans rash

-while the site of the tick bite itches, e. migrans does not.


-Over the last two decades, brown recluse spiders are seen more and more in our area whereas they used to be seen only primarily in the warmer South. Another global warming item?

-The vast majority of spider bites thought to be from the brown recluse are actually from other spiders. The ensuing swelling, redness, pain, and pus, are due to a secondary bacterial infection. Spiders don't use alchohol to clean up before they bite, so the bite can always introduce infection.


-Mosquitoes carry numerous diseases depending on the part of the world you are in. Over the last few decades, more "exotic" illnesses such as West Nile Virus have been introduced into the US because of world travel and commerce

-DEET spray works. Used properly, you won't get bitten. Also, the new devices that hook onto your belt and disperse repellant with a fan work very well. Maybe you'll look dorky, but you won't get bitten and therefore won't get sick from mosquito-borne illness.

Other players:

-In general, roaches do not carry any illnesses of consequence. Nor do dog/cat fleas in this country. Stink bugs merely stink. Ants just carry off crumbs of food you leave around.