Monday, July 19, 2004

Flick, Don't Squish!

I wish they would have told us about this back when the mosquitos were really bad (from My Way News):
TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - Flicking away pesky mosquitoes may be better than swatting the bloodsucking insects, which can risk infections if their body parts are smashed into human skin, researchers say.

The issue is reviewed in an article published this month in the New England Journal of Medicine that focuses on a 57-year-old Pennsylvania woman who died in 2002 of a fungal infection in her muscles called Brachiola algerae.

Doctors were puzzled because the fungus was thought to be found only in mosquitoes and other insects. But it's not found in mosquito saliva like West Nile virus and malaria, so a simple mosquito bite could not have caused the infection.

The article's authors concluded that the woman must have smashed a mosquito on her skin, smearing its body parts into the bite.

"I think if a mosquito was in mid-bite, it would be wiser to flick the mosquito off rather than squashing it," said one of the authors, Christina Coyle of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

Many people already take similar advice when removing ticks. Doctors have long cautioned that squashing a tick on skin could put a person at greater risk of Lyme disease, said Dawn Wesson, a tropical medicine specialist at Tulane University.

Despite the Pennsylvania woman's case, Roger Nasci, a mosquito expert at a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention facility in Fort Collins, Colo., said there is no scientific basis for switching to flicking.

He also pointed out that flicking the bugs off is not a permanent solution.

"Unfortunately, then the mosquito often goes on to bite another person, or bites you again," Nasci said.

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