What are vampire horseflies? Warning issued to Brits after heatwave

Modesto Morganelli
Luglio 17, 2018

Calls to the NHS helpline 111 about insect bites are nearly double the rate they normally are at this time of year.

Calls to the NHS helpline 111 about bites from insects are almost double the average for this time of year, and senior doctors are reporting incidents of patients being treated in hospital for infected horsefly bites.

Experts are urging Brits to remove standing water from gardens following an increase in horsefly bites across the country. Vampire horsefly bites generally take longer to heal compared to most other insect bites and have a high risk of becoming infected, particularly if scratched. They actually give one of the nastier bites, because they take a chunk out of you.

And with the female feeding off blood, Antibiotic Research UK (ANTRUK) has warned that bites could result in painful swellings and the possibility of infections which might not be treatable with existing antibiotics. "In the worst-case scenario, they can cause cellulitis, an infection of the skin".

According to Public Health England data on calls to NHS 111, about 9,000 people called the helpline on 8 July, around double the baseline figure which is constructed from historical data.

This chimes with the Met Office records of the heatwave.

Spikes in calls about insect bites coincided when the temperature peaked between June 24 and July 9.

While there is no solid proof that horseflies are on the rise, they thrive in hot weather.

"We have been warning for some time that our antibiotics are so ineffective that we could reach the situation where people will once again die from an infected scratch or bite".

But whereas most bites are relatively painless and clear up quickly on their own, the horsefly bite is noticeably more painful and more likely to get infected.

Natalie Bungay, from the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) is advising the public to be pest aware.

According to BPCA, the top five most common bites and stings are false black widow spider, mosquitos, horse flies, wasps and hornets.

After a horsefly bite, the advice is to seek medical attention if the skin starts to get red and you develop a fever.

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