Bugged by flies?

Well, for Dr Matt Pic­caver, it is a case of many times bit­ten by the in­sects that bug sum­mer

EDP Norfolk - - Inside - Dr Matt Pic­caver

Dr Matt on the winged per­ils of sum­mer

THE EDITOR of this fine pub­li­ca­tion sent me a list of top­ics he wanted cov­ered. This isn’t one of them. [Ed’s note: you’re sacked]

There are a lot of prob­lems that I get asked about. As a GP I’m ex­pected to know some­thing about ev­ery­thing. I come in handy for gen­eral knowl­edge quizzes, un­less it’s about sport. I’m ter­ri­ble at sport. I once went to a Christ­mas quiz at the lo­cal church hall with the in-laws. I ex­pected ques­tions on Christ­massy-themed pop­u­lar knowl­edge. Christ­mas num­ber ones, fes­tive tra­di­tions, Box­ing Day sport­ing fix­tures, that sort of thing.

Not one ques­tion came up I could an­swer. Any­way, I di­gress. I wanted to write about some­thing close to my heart, and my der­mis; in­sect bites. I’ve seen count­less peo­ple over the past few months with in­sect bites. Loads of peo­ple. sev­eral a day. Es­pe­cially with the com­bi­na­tion of warm sunny spells and in­ter­mit­tent rain storms.

I am an all-you-can-eat buf­fet for winged menaces. I’m still cov­ered in the scars from Menorca in 2015. I had so many bites on me you could read me like braille, big, itchy red cir­cles, the stig­mata of some winged ex­ple­tive. Ev­ery evening would see me be­come the main course for a plethora of bit­ing in­sects. I’d hear the high pitched whine of the mosquito and jump into ac­tion, flail­ing in the vague di­rec­tion of the as­sailant, flip-flop in hand like some footwear-bran­dish­ing ninja. I have no idea what peo­ple must have thought.

In­sect bites can be a prob­lem for some of us. I re­act more as the years go by. A pain­less bite, a slight itch, then within a day or two a large red cir­cle. Some of us de­velop in­fected in­sect bites and we may de­velop a fever and a spread­ing in­fec­tion in the skin called cel­luli­tis.

The UK is malaria-free, and liv­ing as I do, on the edge of the Fens, I’m rather glad about that. If I went to a malar­ial coun­try, there’s a good chance I might not make it back. For those trav­el­ling to malar­ial coun­tries, it’s im­por­tant to get in touch with your GP or lo­cal travel clinic in good time. Some immunisation sched­ules need a lot of time and it is worth know­ing your ex­act des­ti­na­tions so your risk of malaria can be as­sessed and med­i­ca­tion pre­scribed.

There’s an in­sect bite that we all need to be care­ful of and that’s a tick bite. When I used to work in Thet­ford we wor­ried an aw­ful lot about po­ten­tial Lyme dis­ease, but in re­al­ity I’ve only seen it a few times over the past decade.

It is caused by a bac­te­rial in­fec­tion car­ried by ticks. They can bite and ex­ude their con­tent into the un­sus­pect­ing vic­tim.

It can take up to a month for symp­toms to de­velop and they can in­clude a red rash at the site of the bite and flu­like symp­toms. The rash may take on the ap­pear­ance of a tar­get or bull’s-eye, and is called ery­thema mi­grans.

If you’ve been to an area with known ticks and de­velop a rash that matches that de­scrip­tion, it is worth seek­ing prompt med­i­cal at­ten­tion.

Most in­sect bites are no big deal; a lit­tle bump and slight itch. But for some of us in­sect bites can cause mis­ery. The best treat­ment is avoid­ance, par­tic­u­larly not go­ing out in the evenings when mosquitoes are at their most ac­tive, or keep­ing arms and legs cov­ered when yomp­ing around the coun­try­side.

I’m spend­ing the sum­mer on my guard. If you see some­one whirling like a dervish with a flipflop in hand, you’ll know who it is.

Un­til next time.

I am an all-you­can-eat buf­fet for winged menaces

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