Mosquito species in the United States can, and do spread an array of disease to humans. Some of these diseases include the west Nile virus, St. Louis encephalitis, dengue, yellow fever and Anaplasmosis. Locally transmitted cases of dengue and yellow fever are rare in the contiguous US, but experts believe that the southeastern US is now particularly vulnerable to an outbreak of yellow fever. Even without the threat of disease, mosquito bites themselves can be a source of persistent irritation. The welts and itchiness caused by mosquito bites occurs in response to a mild allergic reaction to mosquito saliva. Most people have some sort of unpleasant reaction to mosquito bites, but a rare few experiences a severe allergic reaction that results in pronounced facial swelling, pain, fever and even nausea and vomiting in serious cases. People who respond this way to mosquito bites have an uncommon condition that doctors refer to as “skeeter syndrome.”

Skeeter syndrome was first mentioned in medical literature in a 1999 study that provided five case reports of severe allergic reactions to mosquito bites. Despite the seriousness of this condition, many sufferers do not seek treatment, making it difficult to estimate the syndrome’s prevalence. Skeeter syndrome can usually be diagnosed easily, as the symptoms, such as severe limb and facial swelling, are easy to notice by doctors. Skin-prick tests can also be used to determine if a person has an allergy to mosquito saliva. Skeeter syndrome symptoms kick in immediately following a mosquito bite making it important for sufferers to apply DEET-based repellent to their skin before setting foot outdoors. Luckily, skeeter syndrome, unlike bee and wasp envenomation, is not known to cause anaphylactic shock, and Benedry can be effective at reducing itching and swelling. Bites that go untreated can result in eyes becoming swollen shut, red and swollen limbs, and many sufferers experience fever, vomiting and breathing problems. The most severe cases result in bite wounds become bruised and blistered.

Do you know anyone who may have skeeter syndrome?