OPINION COLUMNS

Trying to avoid death by mosquito

By Kristen Tribe | Published Wednesday, May 31, 2017
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I, apparently, am a mosquito’s favorite snack.

I’ve always had an aversion to the reprehensible pests as it seems my blood has been a favorite among the insect crowd. But what could once be addressed with cortisone cream and calamine lotion is now requiring ice packs and heavy doses of antihistamines.

Kristen Tribe

Kristen Tribe

Although I look like a run-of-the-mill 40-something to other humans, I’m convinced a mosquito buzzes by and sees a steak on legs. When I was a kid, mosquito bites would swell, and of course, itch like crazy, but the last two years my reaction has become so severe that I can’t go outside without wearing bug spray.

And it can’t be just any bug spray. It has to be one with all the DEET in it, otherwise I’ll be devoured.

Last summer I covered a pre-dawn house fire. After being awakened by the call, I groggily threw on shorts and a T-shirt, never once thinking about bug spray. The thought crossed my mind as I pulled up to the scene, but I wasn’t worried. I was convinced the raging fire would drive all bugs away.

I was wrong.

By the time I left, I had no less than three dozen bites on my legs, and I couldn’t wear shorts for weeks. I was so miserable I promised myself to never go outdoors again without bug spray.

Fast forward to a camping trip two weeks ago. I brought my trusty all-DEET spray and used it religiously … until I misplaced it. I knew I couldn’t sit outside unprotected, so in a risky move, I used my mom’s bug spray.

Not. Enough. DEET.

Four bites (just four!) and two days later my ankle turned into a cankle, and the bites were bright red and feverish. Staring at my club foot, I thought “this isn’t normal and it’s time to take action.”

So I Googled it. After a quick online search, it was obvious I have Skeeter Syndrome.

Don’t laugh. It’s a real thing. According to skeetersyndrome.net (See, I told you it’s official. It has its own website.), “the condition is a result of an allergy to the polypeptides in the mosquito’s saliva that it injects to thin the blood during its bite.”

Human blood is too thick for a mosquito to siphon, so it first injects a thinning agent into its victim, i.e. me. The thinning agent causes the allergic reaction.

Well, there you go. It all makes sense now.

The website said in extreme cases a mosquito bite can lead to anaphylactic shock, asthma and other life threatening complications, but I’m a glass half-full kind of gal, so I’m not anticipating anything that serious.

I was hopeful since there’s a syndrome, there would also be a treatment.

There’s not.

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do besides avoid mosquito bites, which is no easy feat in Texas. I’m still hoping someone will discover a vitamin I can take that would make my blood poisonous to the pests or devise a way for me to shoot lasers from my eyes, taking them right out of the sky.

But since neither one of these options will likely be available in the forseeable future, I’ll continue with my shower of bug spray, hoping it doesn’t adversely affect my vital organs.

Please excuse my chemical perfume the next few months and don’t be surprised if I start sporting a mosquito net wrap.

I’m running out of options.

Kristen Tribe is editor of the Messenger.

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