20 July 2018

By Bronwen

If you’ve been relaxing outdoors in this hot weather you may want to start taking a fly swatter with you. More and more people in the UK are being treated in hospital because of bites. While most insect bites seem trivial and nothing much more sinister than just being itchy and annoying, bites from some insects such as horseflies are another story. Horseflies and other insects are thriving in this heatwave and stagnant water left outside is providing the perfect breeding environment for them.

When a horsefly bites you, it takes a chunk out of your skin, leaving it open and more susceptible to infection. Unlike mosquitoes which have a painless bite, you would definitely feel a bite from a horsefly as it was happening. They don’t have to be sneaky when they bite you as their usual food source comes from cattle and other slow-moving livestock that can’t move away quickly.

President of the Society for Acute Medicine, Dr Nick Scriven, said: “We wouldn’t normally see anyone coming to hospital for a bite, but we have seen a few recently needing treatment with antibiotics which is very unusual. A couple of these were infected bites from horseflies. They can be very painful and can take a while to heal, and as result can get infected and need antibiotics. In the worst-case scenario, they can cause cellulitis, an infection of the skin.”

Luckily, horseflies can generally be avoided by taking some small precautions such as avoiding marshland areas and ensuring there is no stagnant water near your home.

In the event of a horsefly bite, Dr Scriven recommends that you take paracetamol and apply calamine lotion to the skin.

However if after a bite you develop a fever or the skin starts reddening, it is advisable to seek medical attention.



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