Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Mosquito bites itch may be more than just an annoyance

Everyone tuned in to news media already knows about Zika spread by mosquitoes and the risk of fetal complications among pregnant women infected. 

Unfortunately, much more severe diseases such as Chikungunya and Dengue fever are also spread by mosquitoes.

New animal research suggests that itching and swelling at the site of mosquito bite allow the virus to replicate faster, than when no itching and swelling are present. This means that in addition to mosquito repellents, using anti-inflammatory creams and sprays post-exposure may help reduce the risk of acquiring a mosquito-borne viral infection. This finding has not been confirmed in human studies, but when used sparingly, anti-inflammatory creams and sprays have no serious side effects. It may be a good extra measure to start applying them at the sites of bites right away, rather than waiting for swelling and itching to set in.

Sergei Shushunov, MD