Spring Survival Quiz, Part II: Bites and Stings

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH We humans are not the only ones who become more active in the spring. This second of my two-part, true/false quiz on surviving the spring is all about bites and stings. The answers are quotes from past posts. It has been said that repetition is the mother of all learning, so why not go back and read the linked posts to refresh your memory.   […]

By | April 9th, 2013|Critters|3 Comments

6 Home Remedies for Fire Ant Bites

If you disturb fire ants, they don’t mess around. They attack. Technically they bite and sting. When they bite, they clamp to your skin with their two strong pincers. Because of this it takes a lot of vigorous brushing to get them off. After biting, they sting by swinging their tail to and fro. One biting fire ant can sting you six to eight times. by James Hubbard, MD, MPH Having grown up in the South, I’ve been bitten enough times by fire ants to pretty well know what’s going on before I see them. I know when I feel that distinctive sting (it’s like being touched with a hot match head … for a long time), I’m going to find a lot of creepy, crawling dots. […]

By | April 2nd, 2013|Critters|150 Comments

How to Identify a Spider by Its Bite

A black widow spider, with its tell-tale red hourglass. If you feel pain when the spider bites, this is likely the culprit. by James Hubbard, MD, MPH I’ve seen a lot of spider bites in my day, and more often than not, the spider is never seen. Over the years I’ve developed several tricks for how to identify the spider by the bite. There are three types of poisonous spiders in the U.S. The brown recluse is found in the southern two-thirds of the country. It likes to hide in boxes so I often wonder if it doesn’t catch an occasional ride by freight. The hobo spider likes it out west. The black widow has been found in every state but Alaska. Here are my tips on how to identify a spider bite. […]

By | September 25th, 2012|Critters|332 Comments

Why Mosquitoes Don’t Like Rain. 6 West Nile Myths, Busted.

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. I heard on the radio that this summer is going to be a bad one for West Nile virus. They were talking about how many cases some areas have had and how many people have died. USA Today reports 693 cases and twenty-eight deaths scattered through thirty-two states. Last week alone there were 390 cases and eight deaths. And it’s only going to get worse. For some reason West Nile is usually worst in mid-August through mid-September. It got me to thinking, if it’s this bad now, how much worse it would be during a disaster. We’d probably be outside more, maybe have holes in the inside walls, probably have more mosquitoes due to stagnant water. Could it be one disaster on top of another? And, for this year, should you and your kids stay inside? Well, hold on answering until you read my list of myths below. […]

By | August 16th, 2012|Critters, Infectious Disease|19 Comments

Tips to Tell You If a Tick’s Made You Sick (Even If You Haven’t Seen One)

About 80 percent of people with Lyme disease from a tick bite develop a target lesion, or bull’s-eye rash. It’s not always so visually well-defined. by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Where I come from, it’s tick season. I suspect it is in your area too. On many a tree leaf or tall grass, the tiny blood-suckers lie in wait—ready to pounce on any warm-blooded creature that gets within distance—eager to share their multiple array of germs. The CDC lists twelve tick-borne diseases in the U.S. alone. Early recognition and treatment is vital to prevent permanent disability, even death. But these diseases can be hard to diagnose. Symptoms can be very general—say, fever and muscle aches—and their onset can be delayed for days or weeks. Tick-borne diseases can be hard for a doctor to pen down. So what if no doctor is available? Here are a few steps you can take to decrease your chance of a devastating outcome. […]

By | April 24th, 2012|Critters, Rashes, Skin|68 Comments

How to Tell a Vampire Bite From a Poisonous-Snake Bite (And What to Do Once You Know)

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. You’re wading through brush when you feel a nip on your ankle. You look down and see a couple of marks, but don’t see what bit you (and it’s better not to go looking since you might get bitten again). Two marks. Fang marks. Have you disturbed a copperhead or was it that Twilight boy taking a nap? […]

By | March 29th, 2012|Critters|17 Comments

7 Surefire Ways to Get a Good Set of Fang Marks

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Reader Barbara writes: One of the obvious dangers of living in the wilderness is being bitten by a snake. What can we do for a snake bite when there is no medical care available—assuming the snake is poisonous? Comfort or treatment suggestions? Yes, Barbara, I have some suggestions. But first things first: You have to get bitten before you need treatment. The thing is, most snake bites happen when people take unsafe risks. They almost act like they want to be bitten. Hmmm … come to think of it, considering you Twilight and True Blood fans … free tattoo? Well, let me tell you, these fang marks cause quite a different reaction than the ones you get from good-looking vampires. Still, to each his own. If Twihards and Truebies want to get a snake bite, let me help!* It’s really a snap. Here’s how: […]

By | March 27th, 2012|Critters, Reader Questions|15 Comments