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Mystery of bug bites gets squashed

September 21, 2004
By: Evan Godt
State Capital Bureau

Are itchy bites bugging you more than usual this summer? Experts have the answer why. Evan Godt reports from Jefferson City.

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Kansas state and federal researchers have determined that the cause of a recent outbreak of bug bites is likely the straw itch mite.

The bites were first reported after a football game on the campus of Pittsburg State University on the border of Kansas and Missouri.

Rita Girth is the assistant director of Pittsburg State health services.

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Contents: They are invisible to the naked eye, they are a parasite that feeds on insect larvae associated with grain. They are small enough to be carried on the breeze like dust.

While the Kansas Department of Health and Environment headed up the investigation, complaints of similar bites have been heard from Missouri, Nebraska, and Tennessee.

Officials say that the high number of bites may be related to the unusually mild summer temperatures felt in the Midwest.

From the state Capitol, I'm Evan Godt

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Experts say they have found the pest believed to be bugging Missourians with itchy bites. Evan Godt reports from Jefferson City.

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Kansas state and federal researchers have determined that the cause of a recent outbreak of bug bites is likely the nearly invisible straw itch mite.

While hundreds of people from Missouri to Nebraska have reported itchy bites, the number of cases is steadily falling.

Rita Girth is the assistant director of Pittsburg State University Health Services located on the border of Kansas and Missouri.

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Contents: We continue to be treating but we don't seem to be seeing near as many cases. I don't know if thats because the weather conditions have changed somewhat, but we don't seem to be seeing or treating as many bites as we did two or three weeks ago.

Officials say that the mites will die with the coming of the first winter frost.

From the state Capitol, I'm Evan Godt.

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If you feel have been scratching away at bug bites more than usual this summer, you may be right. Evan Godt reports from Jefferson City.

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Kansas state and federal researchers have determined that the cause of a recent outbreak of bug bites is likely the nearly invisible straw itch mite.

Dr. Ludek Zurek, the Assistant Professor of Medical Entomology at Kansas State University, suggested some ways to protect yourself.

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Contents: Spraying insecticide would be a complete waste of time and money. The only thing people can do is use repellent with DEET.

While the Kansas Department of Health and Environment headed up the investigation, complaints of similar bites have been heard from Missouri, Nebraska, and Tennessee.

Most cases saw the bites cleared up after several days treatment with over the counter medication.

From the State Capitol, I'm Evan Godt.

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If you feel have been scratching away at bug bites more than usual this summer, you may be right. Evan Godt reports from Jefferson City.

Story:
RunTime:
OutCue: SOC

Kansas state and federal researchers have determined that the cause of a recent outbreak of bug bites is likely the nearly invisible straw itch mite.

Dr. Ludek Zurek is the Assistant Professor of Medical Entomology at Kansas State University.

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Contents: Its a few days event and then the itch goes away, but unfortunately the people get bitten again and again. It doesn't lead to any serious symptoms for the vast majority of people.

Dr. Zurek also said that while this outbreak is unusually large, the straw itch mite was a nuisance on a smaller scale in Kansas in 1992.

Most cases saw the bites cleared up after several days treatment with over the counter medication.

From the State Capitol, I'm Evan Godt.